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How Housing and Food Insecurity Hits College Students

In 2020, nearly 3 in 5 American college students experienced basic needs insecurity. This could mean food insecurity (struggle to afford food), housing insecurity (struggle paying for housing), or even homelessness. While every racial group struggled in these areas, Indigenous and Black students were the most likely to face basic needs challenges. 

Not only does this cause extensive mental and emotional harm to students, but it also dampens academic success and retention. Students facing basic needs insecurity were 15 times more likely to fail a class. Under 20% of students who struggle in this manner graduate in 5 years. If a student pauses their education for financial reasons, they’re not likely to ever graduate.

These issues are a wider indictment of the cost of college. Nationally, there has been a simultaneous decrease in public funding for higher education, a steep increase in tuition rates, and more low-income students entering college. The gap between what aid and family contributions cover and the cost of attending college is often thousands of dollars. Students must take out loans and/or work while attending school to cover costs. For college dropouts with student debt, they leave college in a worse financial position than they entered.

Supporting Student Basic Needs
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative

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