Low-income students grapple with deferring college dreams

ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports on low-income first-generation students are grappling with keeping higher education plans in the midst of the pandemic.
7:22 | 05/07/20

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Transcript for Low-income students grapple with deferring college dreams
Also many in a class of 22 player facing delays and cancellations of graduation ceremonies that loss rite of passage is in especially Peco plant down for the estimated. 400000 students are in the first in their families to attend college. Just 21%. Of low income first generation students make it to graduation within six years. Tonight Devin Dwyer introduces us to several first and students determined not to let the pandemic up and their dreams. I personally don't see this but you know what a big downfall is that the huge news show. Corona virus crashed his senior year but to one Kirk is on the cusp of reaching his dream. This month to become the first in his family of seven to get a college diploma. Did you ever imagine he'd be initiate her dream from everything to cancel routes also. Oh yeah. From home in New Jersey do want is putting the finishing touches on his degree in visual arts from Stevens Institute of Technology. His disappointment over postponed commencement ceremonies compounded by anxiety over job market in free fall. Those students are being robbed during M graduation it's a huge moment. Nicole heard once the nation's largest nonprofit college access program. We are hearing students saying money debt lesser jobs and now I have to speak about employment is I might be the only steady income in my team. For Sophia Kim a Korean immigrant and first in her family to go to college to close sure of her parents nail salon during Kobe nineteen. Makes her dream of law school seem almost irresponsible. Our second I thought why am I telling you sell more trying to our Asia and lost all land. There really struggling. And you know. A new financial pressures especially handy for first gen teens hoping to start college it's really just me trying to keep everyone afloat. And son into high school senior Omar could veto could tie and I just are working full time at Wal-Mart. After his mother lost her house cleaning job of twenty years because the pandemic. It is good done paying for. He apartment don't wish rang up to 1018. Dollars and 48 cents. It's at a small desk in his bedroom Omar Pease the Stanley bills he tries to keep from falling behind with homework. His daily commute past piles of trash and graffiti in his Texas neighborhood a reminder he says of why he's determined to start college in the fall. The devil you don't want my future family our mind all the Blair's mother over the stem the growing grass around this kind of environment. A lot of people say you don't really eat each why can't these students just scroll and John and many well thought. If you want to do something about income and equality and you look at cards to eat and not a two year degree or create. Before the pandemic the gap was closing more low income first generation students were Breaux leading colleges nationwide. Now advocates worry that progress could be lost. Also concerned that way. Colleges and universities were losing so much revenue that day starter Hughes really hard. Well your students. Or find other mechanism which you. Encourage full paying students and would admit there are actually resource. For many already in college the path to completing a degree now faces major disruption. To normal just. Drop out it's called summer melt. I'm there to commit to college and then they just don't go summer melt has always been a problem. Now is going to be very. Rihanna could Dina is fighting his stay on course. I don't know if you armor and again and its. Aim. I don't know how many. Are expected be. Focused on. And Janus. The Brown University sophomore from San Antonio's is taking Ivy League classes remotely is starting to take a tall. Have been expand to name. Who last. Had an exam I didn't living room wearing basically my whole family is also and I feel are so. And loud to myself in here so I can get it done. In Merrill engineer Hines is wondering whether the cost of tuition is still worth it. When classes have moved on line. I weighed eight hours a day forty I was in the great soda pop up. Again so is right now I have to figure out how to. Pull up light you know they are together like class laid endless work. The juggling act complicated by the pandemic. Causing. They you know college that is I Costa cruises that concert taken their semester off laying. Because I would've had to get off and then my outfit like going back I don't want to run it today. Many of our current generation of Jews are balancing mall lie and we don't necessarily how all structures in place on college campuses to make sure that they're getting all their needs. So many first generation college students are determined to persist. I had to make sure everything madam goon action gore and so can more kids so when Mickey again hard for me. But also my students can move up to me simple marker outside mom won't didn't show if you assume on who has New York City is the oldest of four and son of West African immigrants. The pressure to be his family's first college graduate is immense my mom always taught me. I am on call basically make symptoms so my sense FO my family and also for my community can. From a small Bronx apartments are few was finishing his degree in advanced economics. When his dad recently lost work he started helping pay some family bills in caring for sister Eva. Working part time as a researcher from his bedside desk. He's also studying the habits of highly effective people. But somebody always beauty to keep their use. Is open minded and he's really aware of what's going on Nokia into or. What do words really mean. A passion to give back to family and community as the nation bounces back from the pandemic. It's like paying it forward and nineteen act. Oh. It's Sophie Kim deciding to take that lead to law school despite the need for more loans. All market data could Taina charging ahead to his freshman year at the University of Richmond. Well summarily. And my social better. I'll get a ring on my my parent my mom I'm miracle let's do a drive to escape the minimum wage existence to a better life. Even those going to be. An all time from now and I and I know it will be worth. And those first generation graduates in the class of 20/20. Staring down that job hunt in a pandemic is just another test to overcome. Everything adversaries and it's something that agents ounce eat. It outside a body and I get a era and hands are trying to six she bit due July. For ABC news live I'm Devin Dwyer in Washington. Such an important story tell our thanks to DeVon for that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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