Most of the time, an economic slowdown or recession coincides with an increase in college enrollment – but this time, things seem to be playing out differently. If anything, college enrollment numbers have trended flat since the economic collapse began unfolding in late 2007. While out of work employees would normally be heading back to the classroom to pursue a new degree in an in-demand field, many are shying away due to financial fears.

So is it a bad time to go to college? Or is it still one of the best times?

The Case for Staying Away

If you’re responsible for providing the needs of a family, this could be a very tough time to head back to school or spend money furthering your education.  With jobs scarce and underemployment rampant, such breadwinners might find themselves pressured to take on a second job or any available overtime opportunities.

If work is available, it could be hard to turn down gainful employment for the pursuit of theoretically higher wages after an extended period of higher education.  If there are already heavy debts to be paid, like an expensive house, car, or even luxury items and prior consumption, it can be hard to balance a budget that provides college expenses as well as what it takes to live day to day.

The Case for College Enrollment

If you’re not working at all… if your specialization is no longer in demand… why not enroll in college for new training in a new degree?  Many professions are finding that there’s too many potential workers for too little work.  This is particularly common right now in financial services, construction, and even business management in general.

If you’re trying to shop around for a job using one of those majors on your resume, it may be an uphill battle that can’t be won.  Instead, the demand for new hires tends to be within education and the healthcare services (or even pure sciences & government work, to a lesser extent) so maybe you’d have better luck paying off expenses and college costs if you had some skills that employers were currently in search of.

Scholarships, Financial Aid, and Yes even Student Loans can Help Make it Happen

Regardless of your individual (and unique) financial situation, every college has a variety of scholarship and financial aid programs that can help pay for the expenses of higher education.  Not every student will receive scholarships, but only students who search them out and apply regularly will even be considered!  Financial aid programs also tend to be sensitive to a student’s financial need, so it is likely that the worse of your own money situation is the better your odds of being assisted through an institutional or federal financial aid grant.

In some ways, the economic stimulus package is going to increase federal spending for higher education – and this means more money to the students in the form of grants that don’t have to be paid back and public loans that carry lower interest rates.  In terms of government assistance for students, now is definitely among the best times to get enrolled in college.

14 Responses to “A Bad Time for College – Or the Best Time?”

  1. In our area (Vancouver, Canada) many unemployed are going back to school but its a bad time for some because of financial problems. Others are looking to work on the internet for that extra money.

  2. In these days when our economic goes to tough stage so the bad time started for collages. due to financial problems student were out of reach from collage. Financial aid programs also tend to be sensitive to a student’s financial need. education loan, Scholarships are helpful to student to take admission in the collages. but interest rate of bank is also high , so its really tough time for collages.

  3. It sounds like a good idea. But, in my opinion, instead of taking up a fresh new degree program, why not pursue to advance degree or masters degree or phd type of education in the same field. Combination of work experience and advance qualification paper, will give better chance of job hunts in the same field.

  4. Universities are raising tuition yearly even when the economy is still bad..

  5. A College education in my book is non-negotiable. If it’s a matter of funding preventing you from hitting the books, check with your college for student financial aid. My college, California College San Diego (CCSD), has a financial aid office that worked out a personalized financial plan for me and even helped me apply for the loans I was eligible for. There is a huge amount of funding available for students; you just have to know where to look.

  6. according to me the bad time started for colleges beacuse it is very difficult to study in college beacuse of financial condition students can not study in large amount the students are runnining away from colleges and education lone is more help full for student to take addmission

  7. I think it is a bad time for college.For this kids that are just getting out.What jobs are they going to.People are having a hard time finding jobs that have degree’s.So i even wonder if college is even worth it.I am one of those lucky people that has a good job at 26 without college.I work with people that have masters in my field i work in and they get paid the same or even less.

  8. Here’s a website that lists a lot of scholarships for undergrad and graduate school. Has information about fulbright scholarships and HEC rankings.

    check it out at

    February 16th, 2010 at 1:41 am

    i am a poor student of counrty of pakistan in there are many crises in our country me want to get studeis to help and make other family members to get higher plz sir i am looking forward to your positive answer

  10. In my opinion for poor students taking admission in college, student should be work hard.Due to financial condition students can not study in large amount the students are running away from colleges and education lone is more help full for student to take admission.Scholarships are also helpful to student to take admission in the collages

  11. now a days education rate is going higher and higher for every country, student just try to get admission on top most collage but their fee is very high, so it is very difficult to take admission here for poor and middle class family students, i think best way to just take admission in these collage is education loan, you will got loan in every bank with best rate,there is one rule in bank that you can submit your loan after six month when you complete your course or after getting any job. so just get a lone and take admission.

  12. Good work! Your post is an excellent example of why I keep coming back to read your excellent quality content that is forever updated. Thank you!

  13. Its getting hard to get an admission with a reasonable fee in top most colleges and its really tough time for colleges due to economic slowdown.

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