The coronavirus pandemic ruined everyone’s future plans, especially prospective college students who might have been the most severely affected. But more than anyone, Black and Latino college students disproportionately canceled their plans to pursue a degree at a college or university, all because of COVID-19, according to a study.
In a report by the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative at UCLA, almost a third of Black and Latino students had their plans ruined to pursue post-secondary education at a rate a lot higher than white students.
The report used data from the Census Bureau to analyze and try to understand how the coronavirus pandemic affected (and still is) households across the country. During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, before vaccines were readily available, 11% of Latino students planned to cancel their plans for college in the Fall of 2021. Black students were 10% more to cancel their college plans. Only 6.4 percent of the total population canceled their postsecondary education plans, according to the study.
But if you’re thinking, “things got better when the vaccine came along right?” you would be mistaken.
From the report:
The vaccine rollout cut the share of students who planned to cancel their post-secondary education by more than half across all racial and ethnic groups. This means that while fewer students of all races canceled their educational plans, the racial gaps in educational disruption persisted after the vaccine.
Inability to pay was the most cited reason for educational disruptions. In addition, Multiethnic, Black, and Latino students were more likely to cancel postsecondary education plans due to economic hardship than White students, revealing another layer of the pandemic’s unequal distribution of economic hardship. Almost 45 percent of Latino and Black students canceled their educational plans because of changes in income due to the pandemic compared to 38 percent of White students who did so. The vaccine rollout had little impact on these rates.
As with most things in the United States, intersectionality plays a huge role in how people are affected, it’s no different with prospective students. The color of your skin, gender and socioeconomic background had a huge impact on students of color trying to get an education, and the researchers realized that.
The report read, “The educational disparities reported in this factsheet, while spurred by COVID-19, reflect and perpetuate the structural barriers that continue to limit opportunities for communities of color to use higher education as a pathway to social and economic security.”
These findings were also reflected in the Census Bureau data that was analyzed by researchers. It found that U.S. school enrollment dropped by 2.9 million from 2019 to 2020 and enrollment of students below 35-years-old dropped to its lowest in 20 years.