College students wearing mask on campus.

In this week’s roundup:  

President Biden made another pick for a member of the education department, endowments saw lower returns for FY2020, and a growing number of colleges and universities are hopeful about fall ‘21.

February 18 - 24

  • President Biden has nominated James Kvaal, a higher ed policy expert, to be under secretary of education. 
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their latest forecast for the job market. Spoiler alert: demand for jobs requiring a high school diploma or less is predicted to decrease. 
  • After last summer’s reckoning, many colleges and universities across the country are incorporating the principles of the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racism into the curriculum
  • Elite colleges and universities have seen major upticks in applications for a number of reasons, but less well-known, smaller institutions have taken a major hit. 
  • One sign the freshman class will shrink in the fall of 2021? Financial aid applications are down by more than 9% compared to a year ago. 
  • Financial aid is about to change: simpler FAFSA, expanded Pell eligibility, better predictability of financial aid for families, and retooling the Expected Family Contribution (now known as Student Aid Index) unite to ease the process for families across the country. 
  • FAFSA numbers continue to show declines for students from low-income families. The pandemic has had a cascading effect on their senior year of high school and ability to prepare for secondary education, especially in comparison to more affluent peers. 
  • Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson announced plans to create “zero-debt bachelor’s degrees” at the university. 
  • One reason community college enrollment declined in fall 2020 was that older students weren’t able to take classes due to having too much going on at home. 
  • Endowment returns in FY 2020 were lower than in years prior -- for reasons that you can probably guess at this point -- causing imbalances in endowment spending and income.  
  • High COVID-19 case counts at colleges and universities are being attributed to a more relaxed student body and an overall surge of case numbers in the country. Institutions across the country are handling the uptick differently. 
  • A growing number of colleges and universities are cautiously optimistic for a “return to normalcy” in the fall. 
  • Faculty members reported using course management systems like Blackboard and Moodle more than print materials for the first time ever during the 2019-2020 academic year. 
  • The Student Voice survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse came up with several findings, including the fact that students get frustrated by the pace of change on campus, students are more likely to raise issues with their professor than administrators and the perceived outcome of bringing up an issue influences how students do or do not speak up. 

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