The COVID19 pandemic struck American higher education in March 2020. Campuses closed, students lost jobs, and emergency resources fell far short of their needs. This new report examines the impact on the security of students’ basic needs, as well as multiple indicators of their well-being, including employment, academic engagement, and mental health. The data come from an electronic survey completed by 38,602 students attending 54 colleges and universities in 26 states. This includes 39 two-year colleges and 15 four-year colleges and universities. California institutions are not included in this report; this summer we will issue a special analysis of students attending the 114 California Community Colleges.
We fielded the survey during weeks 4-8 of the pandemic (mid-April to mid-May). We assessed food insecurity over the prior 30 days, and housing insecurity and homelessness affecting students at the time the survey was completed.
We also learned:
■Two in three students who were employed before the pandemic experienced job insecurity, with one-third losing a job due to the pandemic. Basic needs insecurity was higher among students who experienced job loss and/or cuts to pay or hours.
■ Half of respondents exhibited at least moderate anxiety.
■ Half of respondents at two-year colleges and 63% of respondents at four-year colleges said that they could not concentrate on schooling during the pandemic.
■ Twenty-one percent of respondents dealing with basic needs insecurity applied for unemployment insurance, 15% applied for SNAP, and 15% applied for emergency aid. But many students did not apply for supports because they did not know they were eligible to do so.