Financial, resource, and psychological impacts of COVID-19 on U.S. College students: Who is impacted and what are the implications for adjustment and well-being?

McCurdy et al. / Children and Youth Services Review / Jun 1, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has been highly disruptive for college students and has altered their living, learning, and working environments. COVID-19-related financial impact, access to needed resources, and psychological impacts are reported amongst college students, though research has yet to examine how severity and type of impact varies by student. This study investigated how undergraduate college students were impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic regarding finances, access to needed resources, and psychological well-being, and explored outcomes associated with patterns of perceived impact. Participants were 894 college students at a southeastern university who completed an online survey during the Spring 2021 semester. Students reported on how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their finances, resources, and psychological health; students also reported their current self-esteem, and adjustment to college (academic and relational). Latent profile analysis was utilized to develop profiles of COVID-19-related impact. Results indicated that most participants experienced moderate levels of financial and psychological impact but low resource impact (34.6%) or experienced low impact across the range of financial, resource, and psychological domains (32.5%). Seventeen percent were highly impacted across all domains and 15.8% experienced moderate financial and resource impact but low psychological impact. Student gender identity, generational status, and first-year status were significant predictors of profile membership – student race was not associated with profile membership. Highly impacted students had significantly lower self-esteem and college adjustment compared to students in relatively less-impacted profiles.