Across the United States, college students are struggling to have their basic needs met, forcing them to make sacrifices between their education and their well-being. In fact, basic need insecurity is a very common experience among college students. Most are lacking access to stable sources of food, shelter, and other living essentials. More than half suffer from food insecurity, over 40% face housing insecurity, and over 10% are even experiencing homelessness. Students of color are more likely to experience these challenges, and student success across the board is in jeopardy.
These facts leave many asking the question: Why are college students struggling? Nationally, there has been a simultaneous decrease in public funding, an increase in tuition, and more students than ever before are entering college with insufficient funds. Despite these struggles, it has been found that low income individuals are 5x more likely to move out of poverty if they attain a college degree. Yet, students with low income are opting out of college.
Helping students meet their basic needs has been identified as an equity issue. The current barriers to a stress-free and secure education include an unawareness of eligibility, the belief that others are in greater need, or the inability to apply for support. Many students are completely unaware of the current resources in place to support them on campus, even though those who have received emergency aid have claimed that it increased their chances of graduating. It is more clear now than ever before that removing financial barriers and investing in basic needs support is an essential piece of ensuring that college students reach their goals and find success.