Fighting Basic Needs Insecurity Among College Students

For decades, a college education has been touted as the golden ticket out of poverty. Low income individuals are 5 times more likely to escape poverty if they obtain a college degree. Unfortunately, low income individuals also struggle the most in getting a postsecondary diploma. Many experience food insecurity, housing troubles, and even homelessness during their time at school. This collection of related problems is known as basic needs insecurity.

In addition to causing a host of mental and physical harm, basic needs insecurity jeopardizes student success. Students who struggle to afford food or housing are 15 times more likely to fail a class than those who don’t. Less than 20% are able to graduate in 5 years or less. In the most dire cases, these students give up on their college education altogether. 

Dropping out of college without a degree can leave students in a worse financial situation than they entered. Not only do many of these students leave with debt, but they’ve lost years of their life they could have spent working full time. If colleges are serious about supporting their lowest income students, they need to make support programs more prominent. Many students don’t know about them.

Supporting Student Basic Needs
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative