COVID-19 and Rural Higher Education: Rapid Innovation and Ideas for the Future

Best Practices / COVID-19 Resources / Equity / Members Only / State Policy /

By: Alyssa Ratledge, Hannah Dalporto, and Erika Lewy


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused seismic shifts for postsecondary education. For rural colleges, the pandemic exacerbated issues that have affected students and communities for decades. Education gaps between rural communities and their more urbanized counterparts are well documented. While 41 percent of urban adults have a college degree, only 28 percent of rural adults do. The college access gap between rural and urban areas is sizable: In most states, rural high school students achieve graduation rates similar to urban and suburban counterparts, but their college enrollment rates are much lower.