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Still Hungry and Homeless in College

by Tod Massa 6. April 2018 23:43

I hope you saw the release of the report from Wisconsin HOPE Lab: STILL HUNGRY AND HOMELESS IN COLLEGE. This is the latest attempt spear-headed by Sara Goldrick-Rab (with some very talented colleagues Jed Richardson, Joel Schneider, Anthony Hernandez, and Clare Cady) to explore homelessness and hunger of college students enrolled at two-year and four-year institutions. This report is based on survey 43,000 students at 66 colleges in 20 states and the District of Columbia. 

Findings include:

 36% of university students were food insecure in the 30 days preceding the survey. This year’s estimate for community college students is 42%, but our larger study last year found 56%.2

36% of university students were housing insecure in the last year. Housing insecurity affected 51% of community college students in last year’s study, and 46% in this year’s study.

9% of university students were homeless in the last year. In comparison, 12% of community college students were homeless in this year’s survey, and 14% in last year’s survey


As I read through the report, one of the things that leaps out to me is that working 40 hours or more per week does not eliminate food and/or housing insecurity, it only reduces it somewhat. 

As expected, working longer hours and dealing with insufficient food and housing was associated with lower grades in college. As seen in Figures 11 and 12, sizable fractions of students who were doing very poorly in college, getting grades below the C average typically required for maintaining financial aid and avoiding academic probation, were dealing with food and/or housing insecurity. For example, among students who reported receiving D’s and F’s in college, more than half were food insecure, with more than 40% at the very lowest level of food security. Rates of housing insecurity among these students were even higher—over the last year upwards of 55% were housing insecure, and more than a fifth were homeless. (p.27)

This is not a recipe for achieving higher levels of student success. I urge our colleagues to read this report and consider surveying to determine the needs on your own campuses, if you haven't done so already. I'd like to believe we can successfully tackle this issue.

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