AUSTIN, Texas — Students are taking a look at how much they will pay in tuition for next year and where they will live next.
They are asking if they can afford it and are looking at the impact of a Trump administration that is making tuition increases far more expensive than they were before.
Students are taking it on the chin.
There are already hundreds of thousands of students who are at risk of having their eligibility cut off by the Trump administration, according to a new report from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
In the past few months, the Obama administration announced it was ending the cost-of-living adjustments, or COAs, that had been used to help students pay for tuition at public colleges and universities, and reducing the federal Pell Grant, the federal scholarship for low-income students.
That meant most students who earned enough to cover the cost of attendance, or FAFSA, in 2016 and 2017 would no longer qualify for federal aid.
But the Trump-era administration reversed that change, cutting the COA reduction for students earning less than $100,000 from $0 to $5,000.
Those cuts were to be phased in over the next two years, but the cuts will go into effect for students who earn more than $200,000, the amount students are paying in federal aid now.
For students who have been able to cover FAFSCS, they will see their eligibility for aid reduced by more than half from $6,700 to $4,400, and their loan interest rates will increase by almost a third from 6.75% to 13.75%.
For students whose eligibility is still intact, the reduction in COAs will not affect them, but for students whose COA is cut off, they could see their loan payments reduced by another quarter, and interest rates increased by another third.
For many students, that will mean the difference between going to school and paying for rent, food and other expenses, and they might even end up having to give up a part-time job.
And that is why many students are taking their tuition hikes as a direct consequence of the Trump cuts.
“I don’t think I am going to be able to go out of my house without food and housing,” said Lauren Gavins, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin.
“The only way that I am getting out of the house is if I am not in school,” said Gavans, who is enrolled in the program.
She added that students will be unable to afford living on campus unless they are going to college, and even then, she might have to look elsewhere.
“There’s so much uncertainty, and I’m very concerned,” said her friend, Lyle Bostrom, who also is enrolled at UT Austin.
In fact, many students say that they are concerned about their own futures.
“The fear is that we’re going to leave Texas,” said Maitlin Dohme, a junior at the College of William and Mary who is also enrolled at the university.
Dohme said that many students fear that they will lose their scholarships if they don’t go to college.
That fear is compounded by the fact that the Trump Administration has not provided any details on when it plans to reinstate the COAs.
The report also found that students have been reporting tuition hikes and other financial hardships because they have not been able or willing to apply for financial aid, despite the fact they qualify for the help.
The reports are only the tip of the iceberg.
In many cases, students say they are not even eligible for federal financial aid because their parents or other family members have been unable to make payments.