How Basic Needs Insecurity Affects College Students

When a student financial wellness survey went out to colleges around the nation, it had some disturbing findings. In 2020, nearly 3 in 5 students lacked access to stable sources of food, shelter, and other living essentials. More than half of respondents showed signs of food insecurity. Over 10% reported experiencing homelessness. This collection of struggles are known as basic needs insecurity

Basic needs insecurity causes mental and emotional harm on its own. In addition, students who struggle to afford food or housing perform worse academically. They are 15 times more likely to fail a class. Less than 20% of students who face basic needs insecurity graduate in 5 years or less. Too often, they leave college with no degree and thousands of dollars in debt.

Food and housing assistance are offered on college campuses. Unfortunately, too many students don’t know about them. About 25% of students are unaware of SNAP assistance for food. Up to 49% of students don’t know about emergency housing that can go to in crisis. Of those who know about support, 3 in 4 believe they aren’t eligible. Half simply don’t know how to apply. For college students in 2023 to succeed, this must change.

Supporting Student Basic Needs
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative