In 2020, college students across the country confronted the coronavirus pandemic.
Students were forced to evacuate their dorm rooms, pivot between on-campus and remote learning, and navigate a high risk of exposure to Covid in traditionally-crowded dorms and classrooms. Some 81% of college students say they experience coronavirus-related anxiety.
Now, figures suggest that the pandemic may impact students' likelihood of graduating.
A survey of 3,941 students pursuing a bachelor's and 2,064 students pursuing an associate degree by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation found that roughly half of students think it is likely that Covid-19 will negatively impact their ability to complete their program.
Among students earning a bachelor's degree, 49% of students said the pandemic would likely or very likely impact their ability to graduate, while an even greater 56% of those earning an associate's degree said the same.
Black and Hispanic students were more likely than White students to say the pandemic would affect their ability to graduate. Approximately 56% of Black and Hispanic students enrolled in bachelor's programs and 60% of those enrolled in associate programs feared the pandemic could hold them back from graduating.
These figures reflect concerns that the pandemic is exacerbating existing inequalities in higher education.
"There are some really significant equity issues that are embedded in the way the pandemic is affecting college students," said Kevin Kruger, CEO of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators on the subject earlier this year.
And this worrying trend can also be seen in college admissions. College applications from underrepresented students have decreased by an estimated 10% since 2019.
"Since March, Covid-19 has significantly disrupted an admission system that has been in place for decades and our worst fears have been realized," Jenny Rickard, president and CEO of The Common Application told CNBC Make It earlier this year. "Because what remains of the system that had already disadvantaged low-income, first-generation and BIPOC students has made those students even more vulnerable."