Hungry and Homeless Community College Students More Than Half Have Housing and Food Insecurity
The Wisconsin Hope Lab released a new report – Hungry and Homeless in College – that highlights students’ basic needs vulnerability in community colleges. The report provides a comprehensive overview of students need for housing and food support in college campuses.
New Jersey’s Bergen Community College participated in the research that informed the report. There are nineteen community colleges across New Jersey.
According to the report, more than half of community college students had some form of housing instability, and 14 percent of those students were experiencing homelessness.
Twenty-nine percent of formerly foster youth students were experiencing homelessness, and between 31 to 32 percent of the students that were either food or housing insecure received some form of financial aid (i.e. Pell Grant).
The report estimated that approximately 63 percent of students who are parents were housing insecure. Fourteen percent of this number were homelessness, 63 percent were food insecure, and less than 5 percent of these students were receiving childcare subsidies.
The report concludes by highlighting policy and practice changes community colleges and policymakers can implement to address the basic needs of college students. These changes include:
- Identifying an institutional leader or committee task force to focus on students’ basic needs security
- Assigning a single point of contact person to serve as the basic needs expert for students, especially for those experiencing homelessness
- Implementing innovative practices and programs to address food insecurity, such as food pantries or coordinated benefit access programs
- Working with local housing authorities and developers to create set asides and mixed-income housing for students
- Developing on-campus housing opportunities for those experiencing homelessness/housing instability
- Extending SNAP eligibility requirements for college students who are eligible for work-study, but do not receive work-study funds to meet the 20 percent work requirement
The Wisconsin HOPE Lab is the nation’s first laboratory for translational research aimed at improving equitable outcomes in post-secondary education. The Lab helps to make findings from basic science useful for practical applications that enhance college attainment and human well being throughout the state, and in turn, the nation.
The goal of Wisconsin HOPE Lab is to help policymakers and practitioners:
- accurately state the costs of attending college,
- ensure that families and students understand these costs, and
- find effective ways to cover these costs that enhance degree completion rates as well as the personal and societal benefits of post-secondary education.