College and COVID-19: Students shift, adjust, adapt to life full of uncertainties

COVID-19 turned life upside-down for Iowa’s 100,000-plus full-time university and college students as a month ago classes moved online. Some struggle to care for loved ones with weakened immune systems, and others can’t find WiFi access to earn the semester’s credits. Still others pay their rent without their low-wage job or worry about an upcoming graduation and job search. “In some ways this virus is like 9/11, where it will impact society and how things are done because of it,” said Kealan Graham, 26, who is pursuing a master’s in elementary education and is home in Greater Des Moines. “I hope this helps people realize how important paid sick leave is, how important health care is, and how important every job is to the function of society.”

The new normal: Uncertainty, disruption and adapting.

Graduating With Debt The Only Option For Many College Students

As the price of tuition steadily increases at many colleges and universities, borrowing money often becomes the only means to pay for education, Iowa college students said in interviews as the current school year ended. Students at Coe College, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, saw a constant rise in tuition over the last four years. They were expected to pay $40,670 in the 2015-16 academic year but that has become $45,230 for the 2019-20 school year. Neither amount includes room and board. Leslie Ortiz, 21, from Houston and a junior this past school year, estimated that she will have loans totaling $38,000 by the time she graduates.