I commend the following articles from New York magazine to your attention. Ours is a changing world, of course, and higher education will not be spared; of this, there is little doubt.
What does this future look like? Many insiders insist there will be fewer schools, that only wealthy students will attend on campus, and that a vast majority of students will be pushed into lower tier schools based upon shrinking acceptances at top-tier universities.
The following articles dive into a few of these issues:
From my perspective (and research), I believe:
We will face significantly reduced acceptance rates at all colleges - but especially most- and highly-selective colleges - as each year passes. Major flagship state schools, for example, will be at current Ivy + acceptance rates for out-of-state students and in-state residents outside the top 25% of their graduating class within the next 5-7 years.
Most selective: 2.5 - 5% (Ivy, Stanford, Duke, U of Chicago, MIT)
Highly selective: 5.1 - 10% (Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Rice, USC, Notre Dame, Poison Ivies (top-liberal arts colleges), Patriot League, etc.)
Flagship State: 5.1 - 12% (UVA, UNC, U of Michigan, UT, UCLA etc.)
2. Merit-based scholarships for out-of-state students will diminish significantly over the next four years as state universities dedicate a vast majority of their funds to attract and admit the state's best students. This is a trend that already exists. I expect it to get worse.
3. 15 - 20% of today's colleges and universities will not exist in their current form by AY 2027. Affected schools will either close, merge with other institutions, form consortiums, or adapt with the help of industry.
4. All-in costs (tuition, room, board, fees, etc.) are going to increase significantly over the next four years.
A degree at a flagship in-state university will cost $135,000 in the next four years.
A degree at a flagship out-of-state university will cost in excess of $250,000 in the next four years.
A degree at a major private college/university will cost $350,000 - $375,000 in the next four years.
5. Financial aid (in the form of scholarships and grants) will diminish significantly over the next five years even at schools that currently provide extensive aid for families earning up to $250,000.
6. The drive for greater inclusivity and diversity on campus will face severe economic headwinds. In an environment where school's "need" programs to pay for themselves, diversity and inclusion programs will suffer.
7. The number and value of NCAA athletic scholarships will be significantly reduced over the next few years. Some athletic departments will collapse. Some schools will move to lower divisions of competition - or cease competing at all.
There's no reason to fear this reality. There is reason, however, to begin planning and preparing - both academically and financially - for the likelihood that the higher ed marketplace is going to become increasingly more complex, competitive, and expensive.
Plan. Prepare. Achieve. Reflect. Respond.