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