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During this COVID-19 pandemic, AYPF is collecting resources pertinent to the disadvantaged youth populations we particularly focus on, highlighting one of the groups each week. 

In Week 4, we focused on resources related to rural populations, all of which can be found on our COVID-19 Response information hub:

If you have relevant resources to share with us, please use this online form to submit them. We also invite you to share resources on Twitter using the hashtag #AYPFCOVID19.

WEEK 5: Resources for First-Generation College Students

In America, about 20 million young people registered as undergraduate students during the 2015-16 academic year (the most recent data available.) Over the past two decades, there’s been an increasing number of young people attending post-secondary institutions. Specifically, enrollment of low-income, Black, and Brown students has spiked significantly (see graph below). In fact, 31 percent of undergraduate students during the 2015-16 school year were living in poverty.

It is no secret undergraduates living in poverty often face additional barriers to success compared to their economically-advantaged peers. Before COVID-19, first-generation low-income students were already more likely to experience housing instability, food insecurity, economic hardships, amongst many other structural barriers. Now, with the majority of colleges and universities closing their dormitories and campuses and transitioning to online learning, many first-generation students are left in the dark with no resources or a place to go. Equally troubling, many returned home to a stressful living situation that is not conducive to a positive learning environment.

COVID-19 poses a real threat to first-generation students’ well-being. The uncertainty of when institutions will reopen their campuses leaves students with many more questions than answers. Below we highlight relevant resources and information for students and their families in addition to providing relevant policies and legislation.

Resources from Organizations

  • State-specific resources across the education continuum, as well as policy considerations to inform the conversation of how we can learn from this unprecedented moment in our nation’s history, and bring about positive change in America’s education system
  • This interactive map by the National Conference of State Legislatures displays COVID-19 legislation, including policies related to higher education
  • This page serves as a consolidated directory of resources offered by businesses, organizations, universities, and people in response to the devastating effects of COVID-19 on first-generation and/or low-income college students across the country
  • Here’s a guide for young adults about the Economic Impact Payments provided through the Treasury in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It explains how to find out if you qualify for a payment, what to do if you don’t get one automatically, and where to get answers
  • Melissa Fries, Executive Director of a college success program, College & Alumni Program (CAP), shares insights into the many systemic challenges low-income students face through COVID-19 including financial, academic and social-emotional barriers
  • Many universities and colleges closed campus classrooms after the coronavirus spread transformed into a pandemic. This article offers a list of some major institutions that have taken action, including cancelling or temporarily suspending in-classroom instruction
  • North Carolina State University has put together a list of COVID-19 resources for first-generation college students
  • Free webcast recording from Academic Impressions - Experts connect with the higher education community to share ideas and ask questions amid the coronavirus crisis. The live webcast took place on April 1, 2020
  • This article features three innovative examples of colleges that help their most at-risk, yet high-potential students thrive
  • The Reopen Connecticut Task Force has developed a set of guidelines and procedures for reopening college campuses this fall
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education is tracking colleges’ plans for the fall
  • A report by Student Ready Strategies outlines considerations for colleges and universities in post-pandemic higher education

State and County Actions/Resources

  • The entire California State University system has announced they will continue online-only courses in fall 2020
  • Pending in the New York State Senate is Senate Bill S8107 that would require SUNY and CUNY schools to refund students for housing credits and boarding charges used or charged for the period of time when such schools are closed or shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic
  • California’s state colleges will receive $2 billion less next year; however, the spending cuts largely spared financial aid for students at public institutions
  • House Bill 870 introduced to the Louisiana State Legislature provides modifications for the application and approval process for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship program. Waives some requirements and extends deadlines including for ACT/SAT testing (Pending)
  • Senate Bill SB481 introduced to the Louisiana State Senate requires postsecondary education management boards to adopt policies to address the negative impacts on postsecondary students, faculty, and other employees by the public health emergency declared by the governor in response to COVID -19
  • A bill introduced in New Jersey’s legislature would require colleges to refund students 25% of their tuition and fees for courses that were moved online this spring because of the pandemic (Pending)
  • Senate Bill S88271 introduced to the New York State Senate provides financial aid grants (up to $1,500) to individuals who served as essential workers during the state of emergency declared as a result of COVID-19 and are seeking college education or career education and training (Pending)
  • The California Community Colleges system is suing the U.S. Department of Education over its decision to prevent undocumented students, among others, from receiving CARES Act emergency aid
  • The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) and Council for Community and Technical College Education (Council) voted to provide students with greater flexibilities in accessing and renewing state financial aid programs

Policy Guidance

  • The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance Friday that extended temporary flexibilities around distance education through the end of the year
  • The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has issued guidance for colleges to comply with federal disability and sex discrimination laws during the shift to online instruction
  • The Department of Education has issued guidance to allow institutions to continue paying students Federal Work-Study wages during campus closures due to coronavirus, under certain circumstances

Media  Coverage

  • This article talks about the challenges young people face getting to college, and how coronavirus has exacerbated such challenges
  • As colleges consider their options to ensure they protect the well-being of everyone on campus, they must consider the needs of all students
  • Luis Gallardo, a first-generation low-income college student at the University of California at Berkeley shares his story of how the pandemic and school closures have impacted his learning
  • Thousands of low-income students are deferring and dropping college plans, indicate multiple student surveys. Or, they are scaling back from a four-year college to a community college, where the odds of ever earning a four-year degree plummet.
  • In interviews with ABC News, first-generation college students from low-income families across the country described an abrupt financial shock from COVID-19 that's threatened to upend their dreams. Additionally, ABC also surprised students with letters from their parents (see below)


To submit a COVID-19 resource for AYPF’s consideration, use the online form below:



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