What Food and Housing Insecurity Does to College Students

Today in America, nearly 60% of college students struggle with basic needs insecurity. In 2020, a survey found that over half of college students struggle to afford food while over 40% struggle to pay for housing. Over 10% of students even reported homelessness. Indigenous students were the most likely to struggle in these areas, followed by Black and Latino students. 

Basic needs insecurity is a tragedy on its own. However, such struggles also make it harder for students to succeed in the classroom. 1 in 4 students who face food or housing insecurity dropped classes. They’re 15 times more likely to fail a class than their peers. Some even pause their education entirely, with disastrous consequences. Just 20% of students who pause their education for financial reasons ever eventually graduate.

Students with low income go to college to move up the economic ladder. If the nonacademic barriers they face keep them from graduating, they may leave college with debt but no degree. This leaves them financially worse off than they were before attending college. When it comes to accessing support, some students are simply unaware of their options. Others worry they don’t fit criteria or don’t know how to apply.

Supporting Student Basic Needs
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative

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