COVID-19 has changed the functioning of our everyday lives in almost every way imaginable, and for college students, the new normal is almost unrecognizable. Being a college student is already marked by challenging circumstances in academic workload, finances, and other areas that are arguably magnified by the toll of the coronavirus pandemic, a new study finds. Global Strategy Group recently partnered with The Education Trust to conduct an online survey examining the academic, financial, and emotional toll of COVID-19 on students. Findings reveal that the Coronavirus pandemic is an extremely disruptive force in students lives, and students of color are disproportionately affected.

Academically, 77% of students expressed concern about their ability to stay on track for graduation. Concerns about graduation were especially acute for Black students (84%) and Latinx students (81%). Associate degree students have some of the most startling racial disparities in terms of on-campus living options following school closures and the implementation of online distance learning. While 65% of white students were provided with alternative housing options, only 25% of students of color were offered alternatives. 

The study also found that real financial insecurity is settling in for many students, particularly students from low-income backgrounds. Approximately one third of students report skipping meals to save money, and these numbers are even higher for low income students

The damage to students’ mental health from the coronavirus crisis is deep and pervasive. Nearly three-quarters of students (72%) said their stress level is higher than usual, seven in 10 expressed fear of developing mental health problems, and one-third expressed fear of developing substance abuse and addiction issues during the pandemic, with low-income students and students of color reporting disproportionately higher rates.