We find ourselves in unprecedented times. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the first and foremost concern is the protection of human lives. Social distancing and increased precautions should be the focus of all students.
Looming in the back of the minds of many upcoming graduates, however, is the prospect of entering a decimated economy to begin their careers.
Graduates who entered the economy during the 2008 financial crisis, or Great Recession, had difficulty finding work. A study from Rutgers said that 56 percent of 2010 graduates could not find a job even nine months after they finished school. The study came out in 2011 and followed 561 recent graduates and followed their success in getting a job.
During the Great Recession, the U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent. Federal Reserve officials have estimated that the unemployment rate resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, meanwhile, could be as high as 30 percent.
In an idealized version of events, the stimulus package put into place by the federal government and state governments will calm the worst parts of the upcoming economic storm.
There is already $1,200 en route to most American adults which will be a comfort to some soon-to-be graduates. However, there are additional measures that, if implemented, would aid many graduates.
The Trump administration has implemented a interest freeze on certain student loans operated by the Department of Education. It is a step in the right direction to temporarily keep loans from accruing interest, but that doesn’t help the graduate who has a payment coming up.
For graduates who may struggle with the current circumstances of the economy and students about to enter the economy, at a minimum these payments need to be frozen.
For students who graduate in the spring, their first payment is set to be made after a six-month grace period. However, if the economy is still in a state of disarray the Department of Education should limit those payments accordingly in order to prevent undue burdens on graduates.
Even if those freezes went into place, finding a job in this economy will be difficult. Alumni organizations are more crucial than ever when networking to access limited positions in a post-coronavirus world. These organizations should work with universities to connect as many students as possible with job opportunities.
If universities and alumni come together with the goal of graduate success, students can find security despite the crisis we are facing.
Jared Sellick is a senior studying political science.