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With COVID-19, Getting Through the Next Few Months of College Just Became More Stressful

How will first-generation students from low-income backgrounds navigate the uncertainty?

Published 04-29-20

Submitted by Franklin Templeton

Bottom Line partners with students from underserved communities to get into college, graduate, and launch a thriving career. Their model is predicated on the power of relationship-based, data-driven advising to provide first-generation students from low-income backgrounds with the best possible opportunity to graduate from college and achieve economic mobility. Legg Mason has been proud to partner with them over the years, understanding that personalized services are crucial to helping students navigate the pressures of higher education.

Committed, long-term support is a primary reason for Bottom Line’s success in supporting its students through college: historically, Bottom Line students have graduated at more than twice the rate of their first-generation peers from low-income backgrounds. The unprecedented shutdown of our higher education system caused by COVID-19 poses unique challenges for their students, however. Many of them have had to adapt quickly to online instruction; they must continue to perform well in class in a period of intense stress, sometimes while moving back in with their families; and they and their families may have lost access to essential sources of income. Given all these factors, Bottom Line’s support is more important than ever at present.

The organization pivoted to fully virtual services on March 12th, with a focus on assessing the specific challenges COVID-19 has raised for students and helping them to complete this semester successfully and prepare for next year. The team is:  

  • Adding COVID-19-related guidance to their College Resource Guides 
  • Easing students’ transition to online learning formats 
  • Continuing to deliver key standard services related to financial aid, college choice, summer employment, etc. 
  • Identifying the new resources and trainings advisors will need to support students in surmounting pandemic-specific obstacles: applying for unemployment, navigating new pass-fail grading systems, etc. 

Bottom Line’s first priority in the current crisis is to ensure that its students remain healthy and can meet basic needs. They are playing a significant role in connecting their students with the short-term resources needed to navigate the pandemic: food, Internet access, etc. At the same time, the organization remains focused on the crisis’ long-term effects. First-generation students from low-income backgrounds already have a much more challenging road to educational and career achievement than their more privileged peers; it is likely that the disruption caused by the pandemic will only exacerbate this inequality. Because of this, Bottom Line believes it is essential that it maintain a strong continuity of service in the months to come. By persisting in what they and their students do best – connecting with career opportunities, securing financial aid, etc. – Bottom Line can help minimize the effects of the pandemic and ensure that its students are in the best possible position to graduate from college and thrive in a career of their choice.

To help this innovative organization continue to adapt to help their students, and to learn more, please visit   

About Legg Mason
Guided by a mission of Investing to Improve Lives™,  Legg Mason helps investors globally achieve better financial outcomes by expanding choice across investment strategies, vehicles and investor access through independent investment managers with diverse expertise in equity, fixed income, alternative and liquidity investments. Legg Mason’s assets under management are $731 billion as of Mar. 31, 2020. To learn more, visit our website, our newsroom, or follow us on LinkedInTwitter, or Facebook.

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