The 6 best places to shop for bean bag chairs in 2021

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A woman in a cardigan laying on a Moon Pod bean bag chair listening to headphones
  • A cozy bean bag chair can be a great addition to any children’s room, dorm room, or game room.
  • The best bean bag chairs are filled with soft materials and can support multiple seating positions.
  • We recommend shopping with these six brands for comfortable bean bag chairs.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

When many of us think of bean bag chairs, we think of the uncomfortably flat, outdated blobs of childhood. However, modern bean bags have evolved significantly, and are now made of more durable materials, have stylish designs, and are big enough to be used while sitting and laying in different positions. Bean bag chairs make a great addition to game rooms, small living spaces, and of course any college dorm room.

As anyone who’s lived in a college dorm knows, seating and space are extremely limited. Bean bag chairs can be a fun way to decorate your space while also adding more seating for friends and roommates. They can also be a very inexpensive furniture option if you’re outfitting a room on a budget.

After doing extensive research, we found that these six retailers are the best places to shop for bean bag chairs. These brands offer chairs that are great for movie nights, impromptu naps, and even for working comfortably from home.

Here are the best places to buy bean bag chairs in 2021

Moon Pod

A young boy and his dog sitting on the Moon Pod in a living room

Moon Pod offers bean bag chairs that are crafted to mimic the feeling of anti-gravity weightlessness and can change shape based on your preferred seating position or activity.

Pros: Offers support and holds its shape, eco-friendly materials, built-in carrying handle

Cons: Some models are too small for larger adults

Moon Pod‘s uniquely shaped bean bag chairs are built to support multiple body types and seating positions. Each Moon Pod is hand filled with high-density beads to replicate the feeling of flotation therapy, which purportedly promotes relaxation and stress relief. A soft cover is included with every Moon Pod purchase and can be removed and washed. Choose from five different cover colors including Neptune blue, rose quartz, and space gray. 

I tested the Moon Pod over a period of several weeks and found it to be comfortable and easy to set up. Upon receiving your Moon Pod you’ll need to put its cover on it, a process that is extremely easy due to the bean bag only weighing around 12 pounds. It takes a few days of sitting on the Moon Pod for it to fully expand and become more flexible. Overall, the chair is comfortable and provides enough support to work sitting up, but is still cozy enough for a quick nap. The Moon Pod can also be stored standing up and can easily fit in smaller corners and spaces without taking up an excessive amount of space.

Moon Pod also offers fun accessories to pair with your chair, including the back rest Crescent and the Lunar Lift foot rest. Extra covers are also available for purchase if you need a replacement.

What to buy:

The Moon Pod (medium)Super Moon Pod (medium)

A blonde woman sitting in a blue Big Joe bean bag chair talking on the phone

Wayfair combines budget-friendly prices with a wide selection of products.

Wayfair‘s wide selection of bean bag chairs includes many price points and styles. You can even find chairs specifically for children, along with uniquely-shaped chairs.

Wayfair prioritizes a positive customer shopping process; each of its bean bag chairs has easy-to-read product snapshots of the most important features. These features include the chair’s weight capacity, fill type, and whether it has a removable cover. 

The retailer also offers extensive customer service hours, with representatives available until midnight EST.

What to buy:

Milano Medium Bean Bag Chair (medium)Large Classic Bean Bag (medium)

A women and two children sleeping a large Lovesac under blankets in a living room

From small game room chairs to giant multi-seaters, Lovesac offers a wide size range of bean bags.

Lovesac is no stranger to creating comfortable seating options; the brand has been making bean bag chairs since 1995. It offers its “Sacs” in six different sizes which range from single seaters to giant bean bags that can accommodate up to four people. Each Sac is covered in a removable cover that can be washed. The brand currently offers more than 200 cover options, making it easy to find a style that will complement your home’s decor. 

Instead of using microbeads like most brands, Lovesac’s Sacs are made of durafoam which helps to absorb body weight while maintaining shape and support. After unboxing your Sac you’ll want to give it up to a week to fully expand to its true size. The brand also offers accessories like its Squattoman and Footsac blankets.

Lovesac also has a generous 60 day home trial so you can decide if it’s right for you. While the brand’s prices are on the higher side, its durable designs, generous warranty, and return policy make it worth the splurge.

What to buy:

GamerSac (medium)MovieSac (medium)

A woman sitting in a living room on an orange bean bag chair

In addition to a seamless shopping experience, Target offers a selection of affordable bean bags in a variety of unique designs.

Target prioritizes its customer’s shopping experience by offering curbside and in-store pickup, and free two-day shipping on orders over $35. Its bean bag chair selection isn’t extensive, but includes several affordable, highly rated chairs. 

Many of the chairs are available in multiple colors, styles, and materials including suede and microfiber. Target also makes it easy to search by budget, color, and material preferences for a seamless shopping experience.

What to buy:

3′ Kids’ Bean Bag Chair (medium)Madison Faux Suede Beanbag 5′ (medium)
Pottery Barn Teen

Two teens reading a magazine each sitting in a bean bag chair

If you’re looking for a stylish bean bag chair that will complement your decor, Pottery Barn Teen has a collection of modern designs.

Pottery Barn Teen is well-known for its furniture, which offers Pottery Barn’s classic style with a fun teenage flair. Its furniture doesn’t just look great, but is also designed to be fully functional. The retailer’s bean bag offerings include chairs made of unique materials like sherpa, denim, and pony faux fur. It also has fun Harry Potter-themed designs, which would be a welcome addition to any fan’s room. 

Pottery Barn’s bean bag chairs are surprisingly affordable given the high-quality materials and typical premium prices of the brand.

What to buy:

Charcoal Chamois Bean Bag Chair (medium)Ivory Polar Bear Faux-Fur Bean Bag Chair (medium)

A woman holding a cup of coffee on a big brown bean bag chair on a white background

Amazon offers a wide variety of products and convenient two-day shipping for Prime members.

Amazon is well known for its customer-friendly shopping experience that includes a wide product selection, and free and fast shipping with a Prime membership.

Customers can narrow down their bean bag chair selection by using one of Amazon’s many filters: search by brand, material, bean bag chair size, color, or by other customer reviews. The retailer currently offers more than 1,000 different bean bag chairs.

What to buy:

Memory Foam Filled Bean Bag Chair (medium)Bean Bag Chair (medium)

A woman and a black puppy sitting in a large bean bag in a living room

What’s the best bean bag chair size for your college dorm or small space?

If you have a smaller space and are looking to add additional seating with a bean bag chair, you’ll want to be very aware of the size limitations of your space. We strongly suggest paying attention to measurements when shopping and even taking the time to measure your space prior to making any purchases.

How do you clean a bean bag chair?

When purchasing a bean bag chair you have two main options, a chair with a removable cover and a chair with a non-removable cover. You can easily machine wash and dry a removable cover if any spills or messes happen. However, with a non-removable cover, you’ll need to spot clean the chair, which may be difficult depending on the materials. Overall, if you’re worried about having to clean your bean bag chair, we recommend opting for a chair with a removable cover.

What are the best materials to look for when purchasing a bean bag chair?

Choosing a material for your bean bag chair is mostly dependent on your personal style preferences. Fabrics like denim, sherpa, and velvet can add a stylish hint of decor into your space. Faux leather and nylon are also performance fabrics and can work great at repelling liquids and stains. If you’re purchasing a chair for young children, we recommend prioritizing function over style.

How do you refill a flat bean bag chair?

Your bean bag chair may flatten after sitting and laying on it over time. Some brands such as Posh Creations sell extra beads or inserts that you can purchase to refill your bean bag chair if it’s starting to feel deflated. Other brands like Moon Pod encourage customers to reach out to its customer service team if your chair has flattened.

Check out more furniture guides

Best sofas and couches graphic
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32 useful graduation gifts under $100 that are Amazon Prime-eligible

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

What generation of Kindle do I have
Amazon’s Kindle makes a great gift for grads who love to read.

  • College and high school graduation gifts can have a big impact and help recent grads celebrate.
  • Below are 32 great gifts for graduates, all under $100 and eligible for Amazon Prime 2-day shipping.
  • Need more gift ideas? Check out all of our gift guides here.

The best graduation gifts for high school or college students honor an accomplishment and empower their next stage, whether it’s helping them plan for their future or feel settled once they move away.

And you don’t need to spend much time looking for a thoughtful gift. Whether you’re looking to send your graduate a bouquet of flowers, a useful kitchen gadget, or a wise book, you can find quick, unique options on Amazon. Below, you’ll find a list of 32 quick, thoughtful gifts under $100 that come with Prime shipping.

32 Amazon Prime-eligible gifts your graduate will love – all under $100:

A cookbook that can teach anyone how to cook anything

How to Cook Everything

Gift “How to Cook Everything,” $18.91 

The title says it all. If they’re going to be spending their life’s new chapter with more responsibility and independence, they’ll appreciate this ingeniously organized — and deliciously simple — cookbook. It begins with easy recipes for the basics and, later, offers up more advanced variations, making it especially great for learning.

Tech that helps them find misplaced items

Tile Pro

Gift the Tile Pro, $89.99

Ensure they spend minimal time hunting for essentials such as keys or their wallet. Plus, the new and improved Tile Pro device is louder, has a better battery life, and boasts a longer range. It’s also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Great, affordable over-ear headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black hanging in a row

Gift the headphones, $49

Headphones are a great addition to life no matter what they’re being used for — commutes, studying, travel, or relaxing at home. This pair is the best affordable over-ear headphones option we’ve found yet; They’re comfortable and have excellent sound for the price. You can read more here

A fun board game that’ll last all night


Gift “The Settlers of Catan”, $41.27

A game they can play with family and friends is a nice way to ensure they’ll always have something enjoyable to do — rain or shine. “The Settlers of Catan” relies upon strategy and sometimes luck to build civilizations — and can last for hours.

The best, one-stop introduction to personal finance we’ve found

I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi

Gift “I Will Teach You to be Rich,” $7.04

This is the book that Insider’s Executive Personal Finance Editor Libby Kane says she recommends (and gifts) the most. According to Kane, it’s “ideal for new grads and younger folks who need a game plan for adulthood,[and] also a straightforward, accessible, no-nonsense checklist for anyone who wants to take more control of their money and their life, no matter where they’re starting.”

A minimalist planner

Amazon graduation gifts 2021 planner

Gift the Lemome Planner, from $15.99

This planner will help keep them motivated and organized by giving them a place to jot down their daily agenda. It’s available in a small and large version, and both sizes come with a sticker pack for added fun.

A book about capitalizing on the huge choices to make in your 20s

Defining Decade

Gift “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now,” $15.50

The decisions you make in your 20s can greatly impact the rest of your life. The best defense is a good offense and your grad should know now, before any life-altering events crop up, how to get the most out of their “defining decade.”

A portable printer

HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $99.95

Gift the HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $77.99

Sprocket uses Bluetooth and the free HP Sprocket app to make printing photos from social media accounts, smartphones, and tablets relatively seamless. This way, grads can decorate easily without needing to figure out where and how they can print on the cheap.

An Amazon gift card so they can buy whatever they need

grad gift box

Gift the Gift Card in a Graduation Cap Box, from $25

If you want to gift cash so your grad can buy whatever he or she wants, but don’t actually want to hand over a stack of bills, an Amazon gift card is a nice way to gift that same freedom and utility. Amazon has virtually everything a new grad could desire, so they’ll be able to buy something they genuinely want — and they know what they need better than anyone else.

A book that focuses on positive psychology

the happiness advantage

Gift “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work,” $15.14 

Graduates are bound to be excited about classes ending, but continuing education can actually be a great thing when it’s self-directed and at their leisure. Grads might even realize a few months out of school that they’re actually starved for something new to think about.

And for more inspiration, be sure to check out our list of the best books we read in quarantine.

A toolkit for unexpected leaky faucets

cartman tools

Gift the Cartman 148-Piece Tool Set, $26.99

After graduation, the stress of a first apartment usually includes putting together furniture, Googling how to fix leaky faucets when the landlord won’t pick up, and enticing friends to help mount a living room TV in exchange for pizza.

This toolset isn’t the most strictly “fun” gift, but it’s absolutely necessary. Your grad will be thankful for the tools needed to handle whatever life throws at them, and while this isn’t something they’d immediately buy for themselves, they’ll definitely be thankful for it when the time inevitably comes.

A Hydro Flask tumbler to keep drinks hot

Hydro Flask, $22

Gift the Hydro Flask 32 oz. Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $44.95

If they’re commuting to and from their first job or post-grad internship, a great tumbler like this double-wall, vacuum-insulated one will not only keep hot drinks hot for up to six hours and cold ones cold for up to 24. More importantly: it may also stop them from developing a $7 daily Starbucks latte habit.

An Instant Pot for no-hassle meal prep

Instant Pot

Gift the Instant Pot DUO60 6-Quart 7-in-1 Multi-Use Pressure Cooker, $89

If the idea of tossing raw ingredients into a pot in the morning and coming home (or to a dorm) to a cooked meal appeals to them, the Instant Pot is every recent grad’s best friend. It’s an easy gateway into cooking, and it cuts down on how many dishes they’ll have to wash.

An Echo Dot for an unobtrusive smart gadget

echo dot

Gift the Echo Dot (4th Gen), $49.99

The Amazon Echo Dot is a small, unobtrusive personal assistant that can help set timers while they cook, report weather and traffic, and perform more helpful tasks without taking up much room.

The Dot is also really easy to use and it’s a plus that it’ll work with any Amazon tech purchases they make in the future since they’ll be in the same smart-home ecosystem.

A journal that helps make a 5- or 10-year goal feel realistic

Best Self Co. Journal

Gift the BestSelf Co. The SELF Journal 2019, $31.99

The Best Self Co. Journal helps people map out their five- or 10-year plans in a manageable way. It’s a nice low-pressure way to provide growth and direction after graduation whether they’re on their way to college, their first full-time job, or traveling.

*Note: The BestSelf Co. Journal is currently out of stock.

The best coffee maker you can buy

Graduation gifts unddr $100 on Amazon Cuisinart

Gift the Cuisinart Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, $99.95

The Cuisinart coffee maker is easy to use, and its built-in hot water system allows for easy access to tea and oatmeal as well. In other words, it combines convenience with great coffee and it’s perfect to use before work or class. We voted this model the best coffee maker you can buy overall in our buying guide.

A cult-favorite book about self-discovery

The Alchemist

Gift “The Alchemist: 25th Anniversary Edition,” $12.99 

There’s a reason “The Alchemist” has become such an undebatable classic and has sold millions of copies around the world. It’s a tale of wonder, self-discovery, and the wisdom needed to accurately evaluate — and build — a meaningful life. It’s transcended generations, but it’s particularly helpful for those facing life’s big questions in their 20s. 

A candle that smells like home

homesick candles

Gift the Homesick Scented Candle, $34

It’s hard to put a finger on just what makes home smell like home, but one whiff of a Homesick candle will help them recall sweeter times. Uniquely specific scents are made to capture the spirit of states, cities, and even memories like road trips, backyard BBQs, and cooking in Grandma’s kitchen. If your grad’s far from home, this affordable candle is a meaningful gesture.

A weighted blanket

ynm weighted blanket

Gift the YnM Weighted Blanket, $69.90

Similar to the comfort created by swaddling babies, weighted blankets utilize deep-touch therapy to help get deeper, more restful sleep while also helping to reduce anxiety and stress. This fan-favorite option from Amazon is relatively affordable and highly popular. Read more in a personal review here.

A media streaming stick

amazon fire tv stick

Gift the Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote, $49.99

The Fire TV Stick is Alexa-enabled, so grads can lazily leisurely control content like Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, STARZ, SHOWTIME, or CBS All Access by voice. They can also stream  Pluto TV, IMDb Freedive, and others for free. 

A portable waterproof speaker

jbl speaker

Gift the JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $79.95

This under-$100 Bluetooth speaker with nearly 5,000 five-star reviews on Amazon is ideal for grads who want great sound quality and durability on a budget. This one is waterproof and can withstand less-than-gentle handling.

A wireless charging pad

Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad, $30

Gift the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad, $33.99

This wireless charging pad from Belkin works with iPhones and Qi-enabled Android devices. It has a little indicator light that lets you know when it’s charging, so you’ll never have to guess if it’s working.

An Alexa-enabled car charger

Amazon graduation gifts ROAV

Gift the ROAV by Anker Alexa-Enabled USB Car Charger, $29.99

Give their car a smart upgrade with the Alexa-enabled Roav Viva. Not only can the device charge their smartphone, but it can also answer questions about the weather or traffic, play music, and even tell them the news without distracting their eyes from the road or hands from the steering wheel.

An easy way to track down their phone or wallet

Tile Mate Essentials pack

Gift the Tile Mate with Replaceable Battery, 2-Pack, $47.58

You can’t go wrong with a tracker for their keys, wallet, or phone. The Tile Mate is compact, thoughtful, and useful for everyone — you might want to pick up a second pack for yourself.

An inexpensive way to make cold brew at home

Takeya Cold Brew Maker

Gift the Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, from $19.99

The Takeya Cold Brew Maker is an inexpensive, easy way to make cold brew from home and can save them hundreds of dollars a year. Find a full review here.

A fun outdoor game


Gift the Spikeball 3 Ball Kit, $59.95

If they love spending time outdoors or are moving to a new city for college or work, a game like Spikeball is a great way to meet new people and hang out with friends. 

Coasters that remind them of home

map coasters, $25.99

Gift the City Map Coasters, Set of 4, $25.99

These handmade coasters are a nice, subtle way to pay homage to a hometown or college town. They’re made with natural Sapele wood and have elaborate details of their city like Detroit or Tokyo. 

A NutriBullet for easy smoothies


Gift the NutriBullet Pro 13-Piece Set, $79.99

Whether they’re moving in with roommates or finally moving in alone, they need a NutriBullet. It’s convenient, doesn’t require a ton of space, and makes fruit smoothies in under 30 seconds. This is particularly great for anyone who can’t finish fruit or veggies fast enough; if it gets a little too ripe to eat, throw it in a smoothie to avoid waste. 

Fresh flowers to decorate their space

Amazon graduation gifts tulips

Check out Amazon’s selection of fresh flowers

Send your grad beautiful fresh flowers to spruce up their space.

An e-reader


Gift the Kindle, $64.99

The Kindle holds hundreds of e-books (some of which can be downloaded at a discount), has a glare-free screen, and is able to go weeks without needing to be charged. It’s great for grads who might have long commutes on the train or someone who just loves to read.

An external portable battery

Gifts for coworkers Eleject

Gift the Elecjet External Battery, $49.99

The Elecjet PowerPie can charge their many devices quickly while they’re on the go, and it’s our best overall battery pack of 2021.

Gift cards for their many expenses

Starbucks gift card

At the end of the day, the most helpful present is a gift card that can help get them through what is likely to be an expensive life change. Below are a few options for everything from books to travel. 

Everything: Visa Gift Card / Amazon Gift Card / Gift Amazon Prime Membership

School books: Amazon Gift Card

Coffee: Starbucks Gift Card

Entertainment: Netflix Gift Card / Fandango Gift Card

Transportation: Uber Gift Card

Furniture: Amazon Gift Card

Music: Spotify Gift Card

Groceries and food: Whole Foods Gift Card / Chipotle Gift Card

Tech: Amazon Gift Card

Travel: Southwest Gift Card / Airbnb Gift Card / Amtrak Gift Card

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Amazon has a discounted Prime membership for students that packs in all the regular benefits of Prime at half the cost – here’s how to sign up

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Amazon Prime Student 2x1
  • An Amazon Prime Student membership includes six months free and then a discounted monthly fee.
  • Prime Student comes with many of the perks of an Amazon Prime membership plus college-exclusive benefits.
  • It lasts four years or until your listed graduation date, whichever comes first.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyPrime Student (medium)

Students are eligible for a wide range of discounts on fashion, tech, and travel. But one of the sweetest student discounts available right now is Amazon Prime Student, which comes with a six-month free trial and includes many amenities of Amazon Prime at 50% off the regular subscription price.

Want to know how to sign up for Amazon Prime Student and take advantage of its exclusive offers – including Amazon Prime Day 2021? We have all the details below.

How to sign up for Amazon Prime Student

To sign up for Amazon Prime Student, you’ll need a valid .edu email. From there, Amazon will ask for an intended graduation year. That’s it. If you still have access to your university email, this offer is wide open to you.

If you don’t have a .edu email address, you can sign up using an alternate form of proof of enrollment like a school ID card or an up-to-date transcript.

How much does Amazon Prime Student cost?

An Amazon Prime Student can try out Amazon Prime for free for six months. By comparison, a typical Amazon Prime comes with a shorter 30-day free trial.

After the trial ends, you’ll be charged a discounted rate of $6.49 per month, or $59 per year. In comparison, Amazon Prime comes with a 30-day free trial and is $12.99 per month after that ($119 per year).

For what it’s worth, JPMorgan estimates that an Amazon Prime membership is actually worth $785 annually. We considered a standard Amazon Prime subscription to be an excellent deal, but the discounted rate and benefits offered to Amazon Prime Students make it a no-brainer.

Benefits of Amazon Prime Student

Amazon Prime Student includes many Prime benefits the average person cares about: free next-day or two-day shipping on more than 100 million eligible items, unlimited streaming of tons of popular movies and TV shows, unlimited photo storage, 30-minute early access to select Amazon Lightning Deals, and unlimited access to over a thousand books on Prime Reading.

An Amazon Prime Student subscription, however, has a few bonus perks. Subscribers have access to exclusive offers for college students including:

Amazon Prime Student includes access to Prime Day deals

Another reason to consider going for that Amazon Prime Student membership: Amazon Prime Day 2021 is coming this June or July – and Amazon Prime Student customers will be granted access to the same exclusive markdowns as regular Prime shoppers.

With six months free, a plethora of student-exclusive perks, and access to upcoming Prime Day 2021 specials, it’s well worth signing up for an Amazon Prime Student membership.

Prime Student (medium)

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A growing number of US states are giving newborns cash for college savings accounts. New research suggests it spurs parents to save more.

GettyImages 1229088991
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

  • Some states have opened college savings accounts for newborns, and the early results are good.
  • Oklahoma’s savings account for newborns spurred a greater interest in pursuing higher education.
  • Sen. Cory Booker reintroduced legislation in February to give every newborn $1,000 in college savings.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Providing newborns with college savings accounts at birth has been an idea that has floated around lawmakers’ minds for years. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, for example, campaigned on “baby bonds” when running for president, which would provide every child with a $1,000 savings account.

Some states are now beginning to follow suit. New research reveals those efforts could have an encouraging impact on children’s futures in the years ahead.

An Oklahoma research project, called SEED for Oklahoma Kids or SEED OK, launched 14 years ago by the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis to study whether creating a savings account for newborns would improve graduation rates and chances of going to college years later.

While the study is not completed, research published this month shows that the families given accounts were more college-focused and contributed more of their own money than those without accounts.

“Our findings demonstrate that CDAs (Child Development Accounts) create more positive outlooks and actions in the family, while also enabling families to grow assets for children’s higher education,” Michael Sherraden, the experiment’s principal investigator, told The New York Times on Tuesday, which reported on the research.

Here’s what states and lawmakers are doing to help further children’s educational successes:

State efforts

In 2007, over 1,300 newborns across Oklahoma were randomly selected to participate in SEED OK, which automatically opens an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan account with a $1,000 initial deposit. Another 1,300 – the control group – were also randomly selected to participate, but weren’t given any money. By the end of 2019, those given accounts had an average of $3,243 saved, while only 4% of the control group ended up opening an account.

Also, parents of children with CDAs were over five times more likely to open their own accounts – the CDA in SEED OK prompted a 15-percentage-point increase in the number of accounts opened for the children by their parents.

Across accounts that held deposits from the program between 2008 and 2019, the average balance was $9,032, showing that funds deposited in the account at the child’s birth did not substitute parental savings, but instead, spurred more savings.

Oklahoma isn’t the only state to experiment with college savings accounts. In Maine, the private Harold Alfond Foundation started offering every newborn a $500 grant in 2009, and so far, 116,000 have received a total of $58 million, on top of additional family contributions of $114 million.

Nearly a decade later, in 2018, Pennsylvania adopted legislation to create accounts for every child born in the state with an initial deposit of $100, and this year, Illinois starting giving each newborn an account with $50.

California is also launching a program this year to give approximately 450,000 newborns college savings accounts.

Lawmakers’ efforts

Along with state legislatures, some Democrats on Capitol Hill want to create college savings accounts for every newborn in the country. In February, Booker reintroduced the American Opportunity Accounts Act, also known as “baby bonds,” which would create a savings account with $1,000 at birth, with additional deposits of up top $2,000 each year, depending on income.

“To truly ‘build back better’ our economy, we cannot ignore the extreme and persistent wealth inequality that deprives kids of economic opportunity right out of the gate,” Booker said in a statement. “We know this growing gap has been driven in part by federal policies and a federal tax code that subsidizes asset building for some Americans but fails to extend and expand that opportunity for all Americans. Baby Bonds will start to level the playing field.”

Conservative experts, though, have argued that baby bonds might disincentivize some people from saving their money. Rep. JP Freire, a Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, criticized Booker’s plans in a February tweet, calling them “job killers.”

“The best path out of poverty is a job,” Freire said.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley joined Booker in pushing for baby bonds, and they wrote a letter to Biden in January urging him to adopt the measure.

“When it comes to racial justice, we cannot afford to wait,” Booker and Pressley wrote. “As we emerge from this dark period of our nation’s history, Baby Bonds is exactly the type of universal, race conscious program necessary to build our economy back better.”

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Education is the best way to fight prison recidivism, but correctional departments are failing incarcerated people and society

prisoners non descript anonymous
Prisoners at Oak Glen Conservation Camp line up for work deployment under under the authority of Cal Fire, during which time they are called and treated as firefighters rather than inmates until they return to camp, on September 28, 2017 near Yucaipa, California.

  • Education is the most powerful tool in reducing the chances an incarcerated individual will recidivate upon release.
  • Washington Department of Corrections claims to work toward reducing recidivism.
  • The educational opportunities offered in Washington state prisons are sub-par and can be difficult to access for some.
  • Michael J. Moore is an author and playwright from Washington state.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

People who participate in educational programming while incarcerated are 43% less likely to return to prison, which makes education the undisputed king of recidivism-reducing tools. Yet here in the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC) in Washington state, of the courses offered, very few have been known to create pathways to employment, and access to them can be elusive.

The Washington Department of Corrections’ literature claims that its mission is, “to improve public safety by positively changing lives.” Though an ambiguous statement, its context implies that the goal is to reduce crime by rehabilitating those they house before releasing them back into society. Considering 68% of people who get out of prison end up returning, the logical plan of action – assuming the Department of Corrections (DOC) remains true to its mission statement – would be to employ the most effective tool, and emphasize a model that not only makes valuable education available to the entire population, but incentivizes incarcerated individuals to enroll in classes.

Educational assets

Having developed a resume in freelance journalism, I recently decided to spend the last two years of a 12 year sentence earning a degree that would allow me to pursue journalism school upon release, so I inquired of the education department about my options. The response came within days, and I learned that MCC, in collaboration with Edmonds Community College, offers a 1-year certificate in Computer Information Systems and a two-year Associates of Technical Arts degree in Business Management (ATA). As technical courses, neither provide transferable credits.

Still, I asked my wife to research both degrees. Neither are listed as requirements for employment anywhere she could find. We had floated the idea of creating a publishing company somewhere down the line, so I requested a meeting with MCC’s Dean of education to ascertain whether or not the ATA might at least teach me skills that would be applicable to such a venture.

The Dean promptly scheduled an appointment with me, and when the day arrived, I filled a legal folder with my published novels, magazine and newspaper articles I’ve written, and a copy of my résumé. I felt that, in order to get a useful answer, it was important for her to understand that my plans were more than just the pipe dreams of someone whose perspective has been warped by years in prison. I prepared my questions in advance, and speed-walked to the education building to find it dark, locked up, and empty.

Upon returning to my living unit, I received a message that she had sent at the last minute, stating she would have to reschedule. Then, the next week, it happened again. And again, after that. This pattern continued for months, until I finally requested, she just move forward and enroll me in the ATA Business course. It seemed like a major life decision to have to make uninformed, but what choice did I have? She responded that she would get back to me because the class might be too full.

Over the course of a few more electronic exchanges, I asked how people on her waiting-list were being prioritized and reminded her of how long I had been actively seeking to be advised on a college pathway. She ended up eventually enrolling me, and agreed, again, to sit down with me in order to finally answer my questions. I start class next week (Spring Quarter) and have still not been able to get a meeting with anyone resembling an academic advisor, or anybody from MCC’s education department, for that matter.

These hurdles can be even more pronounced for others. Until recently, the Department of Corrections considered prisoners with immigration detainers to be a low priority, even for basic education classes which American prisoners are required to take. All courses in MCC were taught exclusively in English, and of little value to individuals being deported to certain countries upon release.

Prior to COVID-restrictions shutting down all educational programming, the Latino Development Organization, a prisoner-led nonprofit, was collaborating with the Mexican Government to implement a basic education program that offers a certificate recognized in Mexico and hosting an array of bilingual classes.

The University Beyond Bars, another prisoner-led program, provided accredited AA and BA degrees in Liberal Arts. Even then, waiting lists were long, and DOC staff, a demographic composed mostly of White Republicans – at least in Washington – created masses of red tape around organizing classes, and aggressively banned teachings that didn’t conform to conservative ideology.

The issues around educational access here in MCC may stem from complacency – the lack of incentive to create pathways to success and remove obstacles from in front of potential students, or they could be financially charged – the result of non-accredited courses somehow allowing more funding to funnel into certain accounts. Either way, they’re arguably the most important and pressing issues affecting Washington state prisons.

According to data posted on the Washington DOC’s website’s section on Offender Demographic Characteristics by Release and Recidivism, of the 22 prisoners released every day in the Evergreen state, 6 return. In order to remain true to its mission, DOC, it seems, is in dire need of an educational advisory board, consisting of members of the incarcerated community, and taxpayers alike, and centered around re-imaging its education department in prisons like MCC, which is failing. Until then, it will be clear that reducing recidivism isn’t high on their list of priorities.

Michael J. Moore is an author and playwright from Washington state.

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The typical older Black millennial has 17 times less wealth than white peers, and student debt may be why

The millennial racial wealth gap persists.

Older millennials born in the 1980s are making a wealth comeback, but there’s a vast racial wealth gap lurking underneath this progress.

In 2016, older millennials’ wealth levels were 34% below where they should be if the Great Recession hadn’t occured, per a 2018 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Within three years, the first part of a new St. Louis Fed study found, they had narrowed that wealth deficit down to 11%.

However, the second installment of the Fed’s study reveals that these strides look quite different when broken down by race. While white and Hispanic families saw improvement in building wealth, the study states, Black families experienced the reverse as they fell further below wealth expectations between 2007 and 2019.

From 2016 to 2019, white families of this older millennial cohort saw wealth levels go from 40% to 5% below where they should be. That wealth deficit doubles to 10% for Hispanic families, but that is still less than their 2016 wealth deficit of 15%. The deficit soars for Black families, who were 52% below wealth expectations in 2019 – a significant increase from 39% three years prior.

These differences look just as staggering when framed as median wealth for the same year. For older white millennial families, that’s $88,000 – four times the $22,000 median wealth for Hispanic families and roughly 17 times the $5,000 median wealth for Black families.

The report doesn’t take into consideration effects from coronavirus recession, as full data for that period isn’t yet available.

Black millennials bear a bigger student debt burden

Despite these wealth differences, the St. Louis Fed found that all three groups had income levels that aligned with expectations, indicating that earnings weren’t preventing wealth accumulation.

The report suggests that one reason older Black millennials are increasingly falling below wealth expectations is because of their staggering student-loan debt.

Black students shoulder a heavier debt burden than their white peers: About 87% of Black students attending four-year colleges take out student loans compared to about 60% of white students. They also owe $7,400 more on average than their white peers after graduating, per the Brookings Institute.

Black borrowers under the age of 40 were also more likely to be behind on payments in 2019 than white or Hispanic borrowers, according to the Federal Reserve. Black graduates are nearly five times as likely to default on their loans than their white peers.

The racial wealth gap is why some politicians and lawmakers are advocating for student-debt cancellation. Several experts previously told Insider that communities of color would be one of the groups that will gain the most from student-debt cancellation plans.

Right now, it looks like this socieconomic divide isn’t close to narrowing any time soon. As the St. Louis Fed report’s authors, Ana Hernández Kent and Lowell Ricketts, wrote, “Given the large wealth deficit and negative trend, the disparities among older Black millennials may persist as these families age, inhibiting their full participation in the economy.”

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65 free online courses from the top US colleges, including Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, and more

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Free online courses Harvard
  • E-learning platforms Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn let you take classes from top colleges for free.
  • Paid options give access to certificates of completion, feedback, and even final grades.
  • Course topics vary widely, from business and programming to writing and medicine.

Every year, US News & Reports releases its ranking of the top universities in the country. These schools are renowned for their rigorous academic programs, world-renowned faculty members, and beautiful campuses. But they’re not easy to get into, nor are they affordable without scholarships.

Thankfully, online learning platforms like Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn are increasing access to high-quality education for everyone. Their free and low-priced courses are taught by instructors from the best universities and academic institutions around the world, allowing anyone to advance their education, pursue new professional goals, or audit a class for fun. It means you can browse unlimited free online courses from schools like Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, UPenn, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Duke, and The University of Michigan, or pay a fee to earn a certificate of completion that you can display on your LinkedIn or resume.

A decade ago, you wouldn’t have been able to easily take classes from these top-ranking schools. Now, you can. We rounded up the Coursera, edX, and FutureLearn courses from each of the schools so you can skip directly to your favorite university, or browse all that each has to offer.

Note: The following list includes Archived courses on edX. They are designated with an asterisk (*).

65 free online classes from the top universities in the country:

1: Princeton University

students princeton
Two students walk around the Princeton University campus in New Jersey, November 16, 2013.

Browse all courses from Princeton University on Coursera here

Browse all courses from Princeton University on edX here

2: Harvard University

Free online courses Harvard

Browse all courses from Harvard University on edX here

3: Columbia University

Free online courses Columbia

Browse all courses from Columbia University on Coursera here

Browse all courses from Columbia University on edX here

4: MIT

Free online courses MIT

Browse all courses from MIT on edX here

4 (tie): Yale University

Free online courses Yale

Browse all courses from Yale University on Coursera here

6: Stanford University

Free online courses Stanford

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6 (tie): The University of Chicago

university of chicago

Browse all courses from The University of Chicago on Coursera here

Browse all courses from The University of Chicago on edX here

8: The University of Pennsylvania

university of pennsylvania

Browse all courses from The University of Pennsylvania on Coursera here

Browse all courses from The University of Pennsylvania on edX here

9 (tie): The California Institute of Technology (Caltech)


Browse all courses from Caltech on Coursera here

Browse all courses from Caltech on edX here

9 (tie): Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins

Browse all courses from Johns Hopkins University on Coursera here

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9 (tie): Northwestern University

Northwestern university

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12: Duke University

Free online courses Duke

Browse all courses from Duke University on Coursera here

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Gen Z is paying double what boomers paid for college – and the gap will only widen in the future

college students
Gen Z is staring down a pricey college experience.

  • College costs are more than double what they were in the 1970s, according to a GoBankingRates report.
  • Boomers paid $39,780 in today’s dollars for a four-year public university. Gen Z is paying $90,875.
  • It’s a bad sign for Gen Z, as college costs are expected to continue to climb.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

While US politicians continue to debate student-loan forgiveness, college tuition continues to soar.

Overall college costs are twice what they were in the 1970s, according to a recent GoBankingRates report that assessed generational differences among college expenses. It signals a rough road ahead for Gen Z, the first of whom just began to graduate college in 2019.

The report looked at the College Board’s estimates for average annual costs of tuition, fees, and room and board. It assumed that students attended a four-year institution between ages 18 and 22 for baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z, adjusting estimates for inflation.

The chart below shows just how much college costs have climbed.

From fall 1973 to spring 1977, boomers paid around $39,780 in today’s dollars for four years of public college. That’s a little more than half the cost for millennials attending public college from fall 2006 to spring 2010: $70,000. And what Gen Z is paying today is more than double that: $90,875.

The numbers are even starker for private tuition, which cost around $80,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars for boomers, compared to $165,000 for millennials and a whopping $210,000 for Gen Z.

Gen X experienced the beginning of this uphill battle, as tuition costs rose at a compounded annual growth rate of more than 7% a year from fall 1973 through the fall 1990 in real dollars. From fall 1990 to spring 1994, they would have paid $43,857 at a four-year public university and $115,000 for a private college, adjusted for inflation.

College has become so expensive, some question its value

College is expensive for many reasons, including an increase in financial aid, a lack of state funding, a need for more faculty members and money to pay them, and ballooning student services.

A surge in demand is also driving the price hike, Richard Vedder, an author and distinguished professor emeritus of economics at Ohio University, previously told Insider: “The rewards for college have expanded and grown from 1985 to a little after 2000 and sort of leveled off in the past decade.”

The “advantage of a degree today is less than it was 10 years ago, because of the rising cost,” he added. “The return on investment has fallen.”

Just ask the 49% of indebted millennials still paying off their student loans who said in an Insider and Morning Consult survey that college wasn’t worth the cost.

The pandemic scrambled this equation somewhat, with remote learning leading some to question the value proposition. Insider’s Bradley Saacks and Shana Lebowitz reported in summer 2020 that at least some colleges faced the prospect of students not returning for the upcoming school year, with potentially huge hits to revenue.

Harvard projected last spring that it would lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars during the current school year due to fewer students and no room-and-board revenue. NYU professor Scott Galloway said at a December Insider event that academia is ripe for disruption and likened Harvard to a “$50,000 streaming platform.” But even Galloway said tuition costs haven’t started coming down yet, and don’t seem likely to.

The overall increase in students attending college now compared with previous years indicates that the advantages college offers still outweigh its increasing costs for many, which will fuel costs further. And getting a degree has become increasingly important, according to Joel Anderson, author of the report.

As he wrote of Gen Z, “Not only will they need more money – comparably – than any previous generation, but the shift toward a service economy also means that a career without that pricey education is harder than ever.”

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10 online classes, books, and resources that will help you improve your debating skills

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Online classes to win an argument 4x3
  • With political polarization, it can be hard to get someone – like a family member – to sympathize with your views.
  • These 10 online classes and books can teach you how to have more impactful and meaningful dialogues with others.
  • You can also use these skills to negotiate effectively in your professional and personal life.

At a time of rapidly growing political polarization, it can be exceedingly difficult (and exhausting) to fight over an issue – only to reach an impasse every time. And while there’s no surefire way to get someone to agree with your views, there are tried-and-true tactics you can use to at least have a more productive conversation.

Enter: the art of rhetoric. These classes, talks, and books will teach you everything from classic persuasive appeals to the tools you’ll need to debunk bad-faith arguments, while also encouraging you to sharpen your own reasoning and critical-thinking skills. And while many of these tips tie into political debates, they can apply to everything from your career to your personal life. You’ll learn how to listen closely, negotiate effectively, and, most importantly, have a respectful dialogue with someone you disagree with (granted, of course, that the respect is reciprocated).

While some of these courses and resources are free or free to audit, certificate costs range from $29.99-$169, depending on the class and learning platform.

10 online resources to help you debate more effectively:

The Art of Persuasion

The Art of Persuasion 4x3

Available on CreativeLive, $59 for course 

In this class, author, speechwriting consultant, and rhetoric advocate Jay Heinrichs teaches you how to “win any argument without actually arguing.” Whether you’re commenting on someone’s political Facebook post or trying to get your kids to clean their room, his lessons are rooted in goal-oriented, persuasive tactics that keep you from giving in to anger or manipulation. The point is to get a positive result that brings you closer to the other person — aka, one that doesn’t involve yelling or snide remarks. 

Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking

Rhetoric The Art of Persuasive Writing and Public Speaking 4x3

Available on edX, free to audit, $169 for certification 

Structured around Harvard professor James Engell’s “Elements of Rhetoric” class, this course breaks down common rhetorical devices while also having you annotate famous speeches from the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy, to name a few. You’ll also analyze opposing speeches around often-contentious issues — like gun control — so you can learn how to make your own arguments stronger. 

Commit to a Dialogue Rather Than Debate

Commit to a dialogue rather than debate 4x3

Available on LinkedIn Learning, free with a 1-month trial, $29.99 a month after trial ends

Before you speak, it helps to know the difference between a debate and a dialogue, the latter of which is appropriate for culturally sensitive topics. According to Duke University professor Dr. Daisy Lovelace, a debate tends to focus on winning an argument — which quickly leads to heated fights when the subject is someone’s direct, lived experience. Dialogues, on the other hand, are inherently collaborative and inclusive — and are the first step to discussing conflicts that are, at their core, deeply personal.

Chris Voss Teaches the Art of Negotiation

Chris Voss Teaches the Art of Negotiation 4x3

Available on MasterClass, $15 a month for a subscription 

As an FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss is very used to navigating high-stakes conflicts. Beyond having a sound argument, his approach focuses on other tactics, such as mirroring and body language, to gather information about the other person. The examples range from bank robbery case studies to scenarios where you’d ask for a raise or compromise with your teenage child — all to demonstrate that these skills can vastly improve your professional and personal life.

Make Your Voice Heard: Write a Personal and Persuasive Essay

Make Your Voice Heard  Write a Personal and Persuasive Essay 4x3

Available on Skillshare, $19 a month or $8.25 a month (annual)

Whether you’re crafting a cover letter for a job or a personal statement for a college application, mastering the art of the persuasive essay is an invaluable life skill. In this short class, writer Sara Eckel teaches you how to spot a story worth telling (be it personal or political), structure your essay effectively, and even break into opinion journalism if you’re a more advanced writer. By the end, you’ll finish a draft of a 600-word essay on a topic you feel strongly about.

Introduction to Logical and Critical Thinking Specialization

Introduction to Logical and Critical Thinking Specialization 4x3

Available on Coursera, free with 7-day trial, $49 a month after

This four-part Duke University philosophy course gives you a robust education on how to break down arguments, sharpen your reasoning skills, and keep from falling for common logical fallacies. The lesson on reasoning is broken down into two courses — one on deductive reasoning (through charts and data) and one through inductive reasoning (examining generalizations and causal relationships). By the end, you’ll naturally feel more confident about your views because you’ll be able to address any inconsistencies in the other person’s argument — as well as your own. 

10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation

10 ways to have a better conversation 4x3

Available on TED Talks, free

Author and radio host Celeste Headlee opens up this TED Talk by asking the audience if they’ve ever unfriended someone over something they found politically offensive on Facebook. After a big show of hands and some laughter, Headlee recites some stats to further illustrate how divided we are — and how small changes in our communication habits can make all the difference. In a little over 10 minutes, Headlee quickly covers the most important aspects of a unifying, mutually satisfying talk, which is solid advice whether you’re arguing over healthcare reform or offering support to someone going through a rough time.

“Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”

“Influence  The Psychology of Persuasion” 4x3

Available on Audible, free with 30-day trial, $14.95 a month after trial ends

This classic bestseller doesn’t teach you how to persuade — it dives into the psychology of why people actually agree with you. Whether you’re using this knowledge to advance your career or to just get better at backing your claims, this audiobook covers the six principles of persuasion, backed by over three decades of evidence-based research.

Intelligence Squared Debates

Intelligence Squared Debates 4x3

Available on Apple Podcasts, free

Designed to tackle the increasing polarization in American politics, Intelligence Squared (or “IQ2US”) is a podcast that lets you listen to debates from experts about some of the most hotly contested topics. Examples of recent episodes include “Should Washington Break Up Big Tech?” and “Has the Electoral College Outlived Its Usefulness?“, with the website encouraging comments and feedback from the audience on the debates themselves. And because these arguments involve popular political topics you might already be fighting over, it’s a great way to see the opposing side’s views to better understand (and strengthen) your own.

Improving Your Listening Skills

Improving Your Listening Skills 4x3

Available on LinkedIn Learning, free with 1-month trial, $29.99 a month after trial ends

Having solid debate skills is pretty meaningless if you don’t know how to listen. In this 30-minute video class, Duke professor and career expert Dorie Clark breaks down the common obstacles to active listening, how to tell if you’re zoning out, and how to hear the other person in a more mindful way. She also shares tips on how to stop yourself from interrupting and reassure the other person that you heard them — a quality that comes in handy no matter what the conflict is.

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About 6,000 students at Duke ordered to remain in their residence halls for a week following a COVID-19 outbreak linked to frat parties

Duke university
FILE: general view of the Duke University Chapel on the campus of Duke University.

  • Undergraduate students living on Duke University’s campus were told to stay put in their dorm.
  • The “stay-in-place” order is in effect from March 14 to March 21, university officials said.
  • The restriction comes following more than 180 positive cases reportedly linked to frat parties.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

All Duke University undergraduate students living on the campus in residence halls or on-campus apartments were told late Saturday to remain in their residences for the next seven days following a COVID-19 outbreak at the school.

“Over the past several days, we have continued to see a steady rise in the number of undergraduate students testing positive for COVID-19, principally as a result of recent off-campus fraternity-related events,” the letter to students, singed by several university officials, read.

“In an effort to mitigate any additional spread of the virus effective immediately we are now directing all undergraduate students to stay-in-place until Sunday, March 21,” it continued.

The order applies to the approximately 6,000 students currently residing on campus, a Duke spokesperson told Insider.

According to officials, more than 180 students were recently required to isolate following a positive COVID-19 test, and 200 students were in quarantine following the university’s contact-tracing efforts.

According to the Raleigh News Observer, Duke officials had warned students earlier in the week that restrictions were possible due to fraternity rush parties that it said caused the current spike in cases.

“This is by far the largest one-week number of positive tests and quarantines since the start of the pandemic,” officials said in the Saturday letter.

Students living in on-campus apartments or dorms are allowed to leave their residences only “for essential activities related to food, health, or safety,” according to the letter. Students in groups no larger than three are allowed to leave their residences for outdoor activities that do “not increase the potential spread” of COVID-19.

The letter instructed the facility to switch to virtual learning beginning this week. It said the order did not apply to “graduate and professional students” because officials had seen “little increase in COVID transmission spread among this population.”

The move comes one year after universities and colleges across the US, including Duke, suspended in-person classes and sent students home as the virus began to spread across the US. More than 530,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported at US college campuses since the beginning of the pandemic, according to an analysis from The New York Times.

“This stay-in-place period is strongly recommended by our medical experts. The restriction of student movement-coupled with a renewed dedication to following social distancing, masking, symptom monitoring and other public health guidelines-gives us the best path toward curtailing further,” the letter to students read.

Officials warned students that repeated violation of the order could lead to “suspension or withdrawal from Duke.”

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