CURE: An Ounce of Prevention: First-Generation College Students in the Pandemic 

First-Generation College Students in the Pandemic 

CURE: An Ounce of Prevention: First-Generation College Students in the Pandemic 

Student Presenters

Cathrine Pacini, Reese Dial, Joshua Prohofsky

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jennifer Doty


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences


The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has altered financial life across all demographics‐ particularly for vulnerable groups such as first-generation college students (FGCS). Previous research has demonstrated the financial strain and lack of financial literacy prevalent among FGCS, with minorities and women reporting greater stress. COVID-19 has exacerbated these problems to unknown degrees among different subgroups of FGCS. The purpose of this study is to understand how COVID-19 has impacted these subgroups.  We explored this strain through a Chi-Square analysis of a survey administered to 70 FGCS students (74.3% female). Our analysis compared ethnic group and gender differences against financial hardship, loss of employment, housing insecurity, food insecurity, concern about family, and increased interest in financial literacy education. Contrary to our expectation, only limited disparities arose based on ethnicity with significant differences based on gender. This is likely due to the specificity of the survey: it was only administered to FGCS with similar economic status. However, our findings indicate that financial hardship, food insecurity, and concern about family were statistically significant based on gender, with female students reporting an increased concern. The loss of employment and housing insecurity were statistically significant based on ethnic group, with white students reporting increased concern over loss of employment and Latinx and Hispanic students reporting no housing concern. These results illustrate the effects of stress from COVID-19 on different FGCS subgroups. Implications from this study are the need for greater financial and emotional support for FGCS from their respective universities.


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