Hunger And Homelessness Are Widespread Among College Students, Study Finds

By Vanessa Romo for NPR.org

As college students grapple with the rising costs of classes and books, mortgaging their futures with student loans in exchange for a diploma they’re gambling will someday pay off, it turns out many of them are in great financial peril in the present, too.

More than a third of college students don’t always have enough to eat and they lack stable housing, according to a survey published Tuesday by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.

Overall the study concluded 36 percent of college students say they are food insecure. Another 36 percent say they are housing insecure, while 9 percent report being homeless. The results are largely the same as last year’s survey, which included fewer students.

The 2018 numbers are even higher when broken out to include only community college students. Forty-two percent indicated they struggled the most to get adequate food, as measured by the researchers’ scale. Nine percent said they had gone at least one day during the last month without eating because they lacked the money. And 46 percent said they had difficulty paying for housing and utilities.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of higher-education policy at Temple University and the lead author of the report for the past three years, told NPR that while conditions remain dire for students from low-income families, the burden of covering these basic necessities is spreading into the middle class.

For poor students, she said, “It really undermines their ability to do well in school. Their grades suffer, their test scores appear to be lower, and overall, their chances of graduating are slimmer. They can barely escape their conditions of poverty long enough to complete their degrees.”

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