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New Survey of TheDream.US Scholars Details How DREAMers’ Well-Being and Plans Have Been Affected by COVID-19

For Immediate Release: September 28, 2020

Contact: Michael Earls at [email protected] 


New Survey of TheDream.US Scholars Details How DREAMers’ Well-Being and Plans Have Been Affected by COVID-19

Washington, DC – A new survey report from TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college scholarship program for DREAMers, details how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of 2,681 Scholars attending Partner Colleges in 17 states and Washington, DC. Key findings from the survey report, In Their Own Words: TheDream.US 2019-2020 Scholar Survey Report,” include:


Toll on Scholars’ Jobs and Finances

  • The percentage of Scholars working decreased from 70% prior to COVID-19 to 43% post COVID-19
  • Of currently working Scholars, 52% are in “essential” or “front-line” industries
  • 61% said their access to money for rent/utilities is “worse” or “much worse” since COVID-19
  • 78% reported as having less than 4 months before experiencing significant financial hardship

Toll on Scholars’ Families

  • 83% of respondents report that an immediate family member’s job has been affected by COVID
  • 76% of Scholars report feeling “much more” (36%) or “more” (40%) anxious about their ability to support family members financially
  • 84% of Scholars report feeling either “much more” (38%) or “more” (46%) anxious about the health and safety of their family members

Heightened Anxieties Reported, Likely Due to Both COVID and DACA/TPS Uncertainty

  • 70% of respondents are “much more” (38%) or “more” (32%) anxious about their legal status since COVID-19
  • 55% believe that their legal status presented a “very” or “extremely” significant barrier in achieving their long-term goals
  • 43% of Scholars said their sense of community and belonging in the US ”decreased a lot” or “moderately” since the start of COVID
  • Despite these heightened anxieties, approximately 30% of respondents said their access to physical or mental health care worsened since the start COVID-19

Higher Education and Career Plans Intact, Despite Effects of COVID 

  • Approximately one-third of respondents expressed “less” or “a lot less” confidence in graduating on time
  • Yet, Scholars demonstrated persistence and resilience in plans and ambitions, with:
    • 92% planning to continue study for the Fall 2020 semester at their college;
    • 89% report maintaining their course load in the Spring 2020 term after the onset of COVID and remote learning;
    • 71% reporting a goal of attending graduate school; and
    • 49% reporting a “very” or “extremely” clear idea of what they want to do with their career

Background of Respondents

  • 2,681 respondents from 86 Partner Colleges located in 17 states and Washington, DC
  • 86% of respondents report having active DACA status and approximately 80% identify as Latino/Hispanic
  • 82% of Scholars report living with their immediate family
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents are first generation college students, with 59% reporting that their parents lacked a high school diploma


According to Candy Marshall, President of TheDream.US:

“The latest ‘In Their Own Words’ annual survey tells a compelling story of resilience:

While DREAMers and their families’ economic and health security have been greatly diminished by the pandemic and the needless uncertainty surrounding DACA, DREAMers remain focused on completing college, giving back to their communities, and ambitiously pursuing their post-college goals.

The findings highlight the disproportionate impact of the virus on the Hispanic/Latino and Black communities that comprise the overwhelming percentage of our Scholars, while delivering a compelling case for why DREAMers should be included in ongoing efforts to support and stabilize the economy and revitalize the country.”

The report, based on a survey fielded between May and mid-June 2020, also details a series of recommendations for legislators, higher education institutions, and business organizations to support undocumented students in their pursuit of college degrees and meaningful careers, especially given the disproportionate impact of COVID and the ongoing uncertainties and anxieties associated with the uncertain futures of DACA and TPS.


About TheDream.US

TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for immigrant youth, having provided more than 6,500 college scholarships to DREAMers at more than 70 partner colleges in 16 states and Washington, DC. We believe that all young Americans, regardless of where they were born, should have the opportunity to get a college education and pursue a meaningful career that contributes to our country’s prosperity.