How the crisis is affecting eight learners and their education and work plans.

A growing mountain of evidence shows that COVID-19 has taken a disproportionate toll on Latino, Black, Native American and lower-income people. People in these groups are more likely to have lost jobs, pay, family members or their own lives due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, millions of college students had their campus experiences cut short this year, and are facing uncertainty about how and if they can return to college. Preliminary data suggest students from low-income, first-generation-college and minority backgrounds may leave higher education. And surveys, including polling data from the Strada Education Network, show high anxiety among Americans about college and the job market, particularly among first-generation students without the safety nets enjoyed by their wealthy peers.

Inside Higher Ed recently reached out to a wide range of nonprofit organizations that work with students from under-served backgrounds to get snapshots of how people were coping last month. Below are the stories of eight learners, whom we intend to follow up with in future interviews.

Alicia Cardoza Regalado is home now. Though the 21-year-old wasn’t living too far from her parents, just in another part of Indianapolis, she moved back in when the pandemic arrived. Her college, Marian University, where she studies mathematics, recommended she leave her residence hall.

Like thousands of other students nationwide, Alicia finished her classes online. It was challenging at times, she says. “It can be hard to pay attention 100 percent of the time.”

She found herself listening to lectures in the car, or covertly checking email. “That temptation is right there,” she says.

Collaborating with other students to study and do homework, which can be common in STEM fields, also suddenly became more challenging. Cardoza Regalado says that compared with her life on campus, she needed to do twice the research and watch three times the number of online videos to get through her work.

“If we had a test coming up, I would say to my classmates, ‘Let’s get together and study for a few hours at the library,'” she says. “Now, they’re not there with you to help.”

Cardoza Regalado says it was also stressful to be doing her work at home with her family.

“My mom would be cleaning throughout the day, because she’s a stay-at-home mom, and I would be worried,” she says. “Like, ‘Oh, will she, like, come into my room mid-lecture?'”

Cardoza Regalado, who grew up in Indianapolis, chose Marian in part because she is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

“When I applied for colleges in 2017, a lot of college websites and college admissions offices didn’t have the resources available for DACA recipients,” she says. “They would all tell me, ‘Oh, you might have to apply as an international student,’ and I was like ‘Holy moly, that’s like twice the amount!'”

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