Highlights from Higher Ed: Federal Relief Funds, COVID-19 and Changes to the SAT

RJ Nichol
Jan 22, 2021

Most private, nonprofit colleges and universities will receive no money from federal Coronavirus relief package

The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package expected to be proposed by President Joe Biden includes $35 billion earmarked for public colleges and universities as well as private institutions serving minorities — but nothing for the vast majority of the nation’s private colleges and universities. The president of the National Association of Independent Colleges said the organization “is very disappointed that the majority of the nation’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities were excluded from the Biden plan. The global Coronavirus pandemic has indiscriminately impacted all sectors of our nation, including private, nonprofit higher education. This awful virus does not distinguish among types of colleges and neither should our unified national fight against this disease.” At the same time, public institutions — such as those represented by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities — are still clamoring for more money. The criticism doesn’t stop there. “Advocates for student loan borrowers were disappointed the outline of the Coronavirus relief package didn’t include large cancellation of student debt.”

Source: Inside Higher Ed

College Board announces plans to change SAT by dropping optional essay and subject tests

Citing a “a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students,” the organization that administers the SAT has announced plans to discontinue two components of the exam: the optional essays and the supplementary exams known as subject tests. “The testing organization, based in New York, also revealed the launch of a process to revise the main SAT, aiming to make the admission test ‘more flexible’ and ‘streamlined’ and enable students to take the exam digitally instead of with pencil and paper. There were no further details available on how the main SAT might be changed. David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, said more information would be coming in April.”

Source: Washington Post

85% of college students say COVID-19 affected their academic performance this fall

A recent survey of more than 14,000 college students nationwide found that 85.4% believe the COVID-19 crisis had a “negative impact on their academic performance” during the Fall 2020 semester. Just 5.5% said the pandemic-related changes to their education were academically beneficial, while 9.1% reported that the pandemic did not affect their performance. “Student responses were fairly consistent across surveyed freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Slightly more sophomores reported negative outcomes at a rate that was about four percentage points higher than students in other years.” Survey respondents represented 232 public and private institutions “across a wide geographic distribution.”

Source: eCampus News

Students who say instructors tried to engage them during the pandemic are more likely to return to college in the spring

Sixty-nine percent of recently polled Canadian and U.S. students said they were learning less effectively online, and most expressed concern about their ability to pass their classes during the current term. On the bright side, “students who say they believe their instructor made an effort to understand their goals, interests and challenges” are more likely to return to school in the spring 2021 term than those who felt otherwise. The top factors that adversely affected their education during the fall semester included: a lack of “engaging in-class experiences” (76%), limited interactions with faculty and students (75%), insufficient access to study spaces (48%), balancing coursework with caregiving responsibilities (39%) and difficulty using online learning tools (38%).


RJ Nichol

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