College students struggling to have their basic needs met have a hard time focusing on their education and achieving success. A national student financial wellness survey found that more than 50% of respondents were experiencing food insecurity and more than 40% showed signs of housing insecurity while more than 10% were experiencing homelessness. Students of color in particular are the ones who are most often struggling through basic needs challenges such as access to physical and mental healthcare, childcare, transportation, food security, and more. Unfortunately, few of those who struggle with their education or have to put a pause to it are able to eventually graduate.
Nationally, the decrease in funding for higher education, a jump in tuition rates, and the lack of financial resources have caused college students to struggle, even with access to the Pell Grant which has nowadays only been able to cover just 29% of the average tuition cost. A survey of a public university in Kentucky showed that most students were worried about finding money to pay for their education and it being the cause of them withdrawing from college. In fact, about 30% of two-year and 25% of four-year college students have reported running out of money at least five times a year.
Although attaining a college degree can help low-income individuals become five times more likely to get out of poverty, many of these people are opting out of college due to the nonacademic barriers they face, one of which is the ability to access support. Many think they’re not eligible or just don’t know how to apply at all. The students who do get financial assistance use the funding to continue enrollment, buy necessary class materials, pay for housing, and more, helping them increase their chances of graduating.
For us to be able to help students succeed and thrive, we need to reduce financial barriers while increasing access to basic needs support and providing more access to postsecondary education degrees and credentials.
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative