"I feel like a bother": COVID-Era Experiences of College Students on Academic Probation and Financial Aid Warning Status





undergraduate college students, COVID-19, academic probation, financial aid warning


Although there is a wealth of literature focused on how and why college students persist, less is known about a subpopulation of college students: students on academic probation and/or financial aid warning status, i.e., students who are potentially one semester away from academic suspension and/or lost financial aid eligibility. This study seeks to understand the experiences of students from this at-risk population in spring 2021 as many institutions reversed flexible COVID-19 policies, further complicating students' experiences. Through interviews, this study engages with students in an already precarious situation during the later stages of the pandemic to understand whether they exhibited behaviors to help them remain enrolled in college. Applying Bronfenbrenner's (1979; 1994) ecological systems theory, findings reveal how students interacted with peers and professors in the complex ecosystems of higher education and COVID-19. Students described COVID-19 as omnipresent despite the rollback of forgiveness policies. Students also showed avoidant behavior, often putting them more at risk to depart college. They struggled to develop social networks, though some participants described their academic and financial aid standing as a motivator to change their actions. We discuss implications to aid this student population.

Author Biographies

Elizabeth A. Rainey, Student Success, Loyola University New Orleans

Dr. Elizabeth A. Rainey is the Assistant Provost for Student Success at Loyola University New Orleans, where she leads the Pan-American Life Student Success Center and university-wide retention strategies. She has worked in higher education for more than 20 years in roles spanning admissions, advising, and student success. Her research focuses on students’ experiences, retention outcomes, and financial aid policy.

Z.W. Taylor, Educational Research and Administration, University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Z.W. Taylor is an assistant professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Taylor has worked in education for 15 years as a pre-college counselor, financial aid consultant, assistant director of admissions, and admissions analyst, specifically aiming to serve low-income students and students of color.


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How to Cite

Rainey, E. A., & Taylor, Z. (2023). "I feel like a bother": COVID-Era Experiences of College Students on Academic Probation and Financial Aid Warning Status. Journal of College Academic Support Programs, 6(1), 14. https://doi.org/10.58997/fa2