The outlook for current college students has changed for the worse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Researchers from Arizona State University surveyed about 1,500 undergraduate students at the institution to determine how the pandemic has impacted their current situation and expected outcomes.
The survey results paint a dismal picture. Thirteen percent of the students who responded have delayed their graduation. About 40 percent have lost a job, internship or job offer. A little less than one-third expect to earn less at age 35 than they previously anticipated.
About half of respondents reported a decrease in their study hours and academic performance due to the pandemic, although one-quarter of students increased their study time by more than four hours per week.
The results, predictably, vary depending on a student's socioeconomic status and race. Lower-income students were 55 percent more likely to delay graduation than their higher-income peers. COVID-19 also nearly doubled the gap between higher- and lower-income students' expected GPAs.
Nonwhite students were 70 percent more likely to change their majors due to the pandemic compared to their white peers, and first-generation students were 50 percent more likely to delay graduation than students who have college-educated parents.
This is likely due to the pandemic's outsize effects on racial minorities and those who are lower income, according to the report. Black people have been more likely than white people to contract COVID-19 and to die from the virus. Those who worked in lower-wage industries, like hospitality, were also more likely to lose their jobs or income. The personal health and financial impacts from the virus were very likely to impact students' decisions, the report found.