Hungry, Homeless and in College

Struggling Students Need Help
Escaping Poverty to Succeed

Wisconsin_HOPE_Lab_Hungry_To_LearnA December 4, 2015, New York Times op-ed highlights the alarming and growing trend of college students facing hunger and homelessness.

Imagine being 19 years old, in college and not having anywhere to live?

The Wisconsin HopeLab recently released Hungry to Learn: Addressing Food and Housing Insecurity Among Undergraduates.

A survey of ten community colleges across the country found that:

“One in five of those students said that, in the last 30 days, she had gone hungry because of a lack of money. Thirteen percent had experienced a form of homelessness in the last year, having been thrown out or evicted, lived in shelters or abandoned buildings, or gone without a place to sleep at all. Far more — just over half — were at risk of each of those conditions. A majority had financial aid and jobs, but it wasn’t enough.”

And this comes at a time when more and more jobs in the United States will require a college education.

Sara Goldrick-Rab is the founding director of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab. Katharine M. Broton is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Goldrick-Rab and Broton suggest that much must be done to ensure that no college students need to experience homelessness.

“This will require changing both our social and educational policies, while also reducing college costs. To give one example, the National School Lunch Program supports schoolchildren but not college students. Subsidized housing and transportation are often available when a student is in high school but not once he enters college. Even if the students are technically adults, this is shortsighted thinking.

From President Obama on down, our political leaders are urging people to do the right thing and stay in college. Students are trying — so hard that they sometimes go hungry to learn. When will we match their level of determination? A college education is a great tool for overcoming poverty, but students have to be able escape the conditions of poverty long enough to finish their degrees or we’re wasting their time.”

Click here to read the full op-ed.

Click here to read Hungry to Learn: Addressing Food and Housing Insecurity Among Undergraduates.