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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/9/21

Covid is Time for VA and US Colleges to Use Endowments as the "Rainy-Day Funds" They're Intended to Be

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Originally published in The Roanoke Times

By Robert Weiner, Rebecca Lee and Ben Lasky

While life is beginning to return to normal due to COVID vaccinations, most college students still aren't being offered what they usually would in a non-coronavirus world.

One of the most serious problems facing young people today is student debt - with a whopping $1.56 trillion owed. Yet colleges and universities across the nation, including in the outstanding Roanoke-area schools, charge full tuition (or close to it) for a fraction of the value due to the impact of COVID-19's necessary cutbacks.

For example, Virginia Tech has a $1.43 billion endowment, yet for half the academic year students paid 100% tuition for about 10% of what is usually offered.

Not only classes, but much of the residential life, such as sports, in-person clubs, debating, dorm life, and all other group extra-curricular activities; in other words, the friendships that last a lifetime, and are the prime reasons you go to college in the first place, were not being offered.

And even as colleges ease restrictions, things are not all the way back yet. Current students should not accrue debt when they're only getting a portion of the college benefits.

On Roanoke College's website, there is a page that boasts 12 "surprising things about life at Roanoke College."

The problem is that most of the items listed weren't possible for most of this year. "You can do your laundry without your mom" is one of the reasons listed. But you don't have to when mom is still your roommate because dorms were closed.

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