Reporter’s notebook

  • 5M college students are caretakers
  • Onward with National Manufacturing Day
  • 2021-22 FAFSA forms available
  • A president’s perspective on the future of higher ed

5M college students are caretakers

About 5 million postsecondary students are providing care to a family member or friend in addition to attending college, and many of them report that it has affected their academics and finances, according to new research from AARP.

The study – which included feedback from students enrolled in all sectors of higher education, including community colleges – examined the experiences of student caregivers and how they are affected by this dual role. Seven in 10 reported that caring for a loved one impacted their academic success, and six in 10 said it has affected their ability to pay for school.

Half of student caregivers said they experienced emotional stress or distraction due to their role. About one-third reported that they submitted an assignment late (35 percent) or missed a class (34 percent). And while more than half of respondents wanted their school to offer flexible accommodations or resources for caregivers, only 5 percent reported that their school had such a policy. Younger caregivers (age 18-24) were most likely to say they did not want help from their school (37 percent vs. 9 percent of those age 25-34, and 19 percent of those age 35 and older).

“Colleges and universities should be aware that many students are juggling learning, caring and working at the same time,” AARP’s Nancy LeaMond said in a release. “By creating supportive caregiving policies, schools can better serve these students and help them succeed.”

Other findings:

  • Most student caregivers work at least part-time (86 percent).
  • 57 percent are full-time students, while 43 percent attend part-time.
  • 52 percent take most or all of their classes online, even prior to the pandemic.
  • 56 percent were already providing care at the time they enrolled in college.
  • Three-quarters of those already providing care said it affected their choice of a school to some or a great extent.
  • One-quarter of student caregivers (26 percent) reported feeling discriminated against by someone at their academic institution due to their caregiving responsibilities. Judgment from peers and a lack of understanding from instructors are the most commonly reported grievances, the study said.

Onward with National Manufacturing Day

National Manufacturing Day is an event in October that in previous years served mainly as a day for students, teachers and the public to visit local manufacturers to learn about jobs and careers in that field. The pandemic has curbed most of those in-person visits, but many manufacturers, as well as some community colleges, have made available virtual tours and events.

Hagerstown Community College (HCC) in Maryland, for example, will host a virtual Manufacturing Day conference on October 2. Attendees of the free event will learn about modern manufacturing and the types of high-paying jobs that will become available over the next decade. HCC President Jim Klauber will present opening remarks and provide an introduction to the conference, which will include local industry leaders.

In California, Contra Costa Community College District representatives will virtually provide an overview of the district colleges’ construction/building trades pathway and certificate programs. On October 7, Bakersfield College invites local high schools and residents for a virtual presentation of its manufacturing-related programs, along with virtual laboratory tours and demonstrations. In addition, industry employers will participate in informational sessions, answering questions, general inquires and demonstrate products and machines related to manufacturing.

In Kentucky on October 23, Henderson Community College will stream its day-long event on Facebook and participating businesses’ websites. The day will feature speakers from local companies, such as Alcoa Electric and Morris Tool and Plastics.

2021-22 FAFSA forms available

The U.S. Education Department on Thursday posted the 2021–22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. And beginning with the 2021-22 cycle, students and parents eligible to use the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool can securely transfer their answer to the Schedule 1 question into the FAFSA form, ED said.

In addition, the department said it will by year’s end update the myStudentAid mobile app, which will have a new look and feel, as well as additional features. Those will include:

  • A new dashboard that will provide customers with a personalized “home page,” where they can see an overview of their aid, view upcoming loan payments and access content, resources and checklists.
  • Aid summary that will allow users to see their loan and grant aid information, aid overpayments, remaining direct loan and Pell Grant eligibility.
  • Important alerts and account updates within the app’s Notification Center.

A president’s perspective on the future of higher ed

In Massachusetts, Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal on October 2 will join state Sen. Eric Lesser on his weekly Lunchtime Livestream series to discuss the college’s continuing efforts to support its students during the transition to remote learning and the future of higher education due to the pandemic.

The event, which begins at noon ET and will be live-streamed on Facebook and Twitter, will include a Q&A about community colleges and the future of higher education.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.