Food, Rent, and Textbooks: How College Students are Struggling with Basic Needs Insecurity
A national student financial wellness survey in 2020 uncovered a crisis among college students. Nearly 3 in 5 students surveyed struggled to afford food, shelter, tech devices, and other living essentials. More than half of respondents showed signs of food insecurity while over 10% reported experiencing homelessness. This collection of problems is called basic needs insecurity.
Students suffering from basic needs insecurity deal with extensive mental and emotional harm from their situation. On top of that, they often face challenges academically as well. 1 in 4 of these students had to drop classes to focus on basic necessities. Less than 20% of students in this group are able to graduate in 5 years or less.
America prides itself on offering social mobility to its citizens. And it’s still true that low income individuals are 5 times more likely to escape poverty with a college degree. But acquiring that degree is a daunting task. Those unable to graduate leave college in a worse position than they entered due to debt.
It’s true that many students qualify for food or housing assistance, but up to 49% of students don’t know about it. Those that do don’t know how to apply or believe they’re ineligible.