An article in the New York Times by Amelia Nierenberg indicates that the current virus crisis has opened up a massive gulf between elite universities in the USA and less prestigious institutions lower down the global and national rankings.
Cornell University, a member of the Ivy League, has seen an unprecedented rise in applications, encouraged in large part by a policy of not requiring standardised test scores during the current epidemic. That policy, which has been introduced by a number of highly regarded schools, is likely to remain even after the pandemic recedes.
In contrast, there has been a significant drop in applicants to Cal Poly Pomona, a college in the California State University system near Los Angeles, among freshmen and transfer students
In general, selective institutions such as the University of California Los Angeles, Harvard, Colgate and private liberal arts colleges such as Haverford and Swarthmore have received many more applications while there have been dramatic falls at the State University of New York system and Portland State University.
Combined with declining incomes from other sources, this means serious problems for such colleges which are likely to face drastic cutbacks or even closures
Overall, the trend is one declining enrolment among low income and minority and first-generation students and this is may well continue after the passing of the pandemic.