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Food and Housing Insecurity on College Campuses Remain a Challenge

8 August 2018
Wisconsin HOPE Lab

A recent report by the Wisconsin Hope Lab, Still Hungry and Homeless in College, assesses students’ basic needs security among community colleges and university students. This report is the third national survey to examine food and housing insecurity of college students. Over 43,000 students across 66 community colleges and universities in 20 states participated in the study.

According to the report:

  • 42% of community college students were food insecure 30 days before the survey was administered.
  • 46% of community college students were unstably housed in the last year, and 12% were experiencing homelessness, while 36% of university students were unstably housed and 9% were experiencing homelessness.
  • 15% of community college students and 11% of university students receiving federal Pell Grants indicated they were experiencing homelessness in the last year.
  • 60% of the formerly fostered youth surveyed reported experiencing food and housing insecurity.
  • African American students were more likely to experience food insecurity and were at higher risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
  • Student-veterans reported a greater risk of housing instability and homelessness than non-veteran students, but lower food insecurity since food pantries was more common at certain universities.
  • Parenting students were more likely to experience food and housing insecurity as compared to non-parenting students.

The report concludes by highlighting actionable items that students, universities, and policymakers can work on to address the basic needs of students. These include:

  • Expanding public benefits access for students, such as child care and waiving the work requirements that are associated with SNAP.
  • Fully fund students’ living expenses to not only cover tuition and fees, but housing and other basic needs support.
  • Raising awareness of food and housing insecurity on campuses and connecting students to available resources.

Click here to read the report.