The increase of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota have led Minnesota State University and many other colleges to close their physical locations and offer online classes only. While this may be the best option from a public health standpoint, is enough being done for students already facing financial struggles amidst a pandemic?
As a student in the master of social work program I have experienced expense increases following the change to online schooling including higher internet bills to accommodate faster connection speeds and increased rent costs to allow space for an office within the home.
My recent search for apartment rentals in Mankato revealed that even the smallest spaces would require 40% of my full-time monthly income before accounting for any utilities.
An article published in September quoted Matt Atwood, of Atwood Property Management, praising the landlords he works with for “stepping up to the plate” and covering transaction fees so tenants can pay rent with credit cards. However, this pseudo-assistance will actually increase rent costs by making payments subject to credit card interest, and ultimately, deepen the deep pit of debt many college students find themselves in.
I am also critical of assistance being provided by the university. In the spring semester I will be expected to forgo full-time employment to allow adequate time for an unpaid internship. Choosing to further my education will require me to take a significant pay cut while still allocating thousands of dollars for tuition and fees.
At a time where many are struggling financially, I wonder, is there really nothing more that can be done, or have we entered a world where students must rely on lenders and creditors to survive?