Student Basic Needs

Many students struggle with meeting their needs for food, housing, and other basic necessities, forcing them to choose between their educational goals and paying their bills. In fact, about three in five college students in 2020 experienced basic needs insecurity as they lacked access to stable sources of shelter, food, and other essentials. Students of color are more likely to experience these struggles with meeting their needs compared to others. 

Not only does basic needs insecurity cause mental and emotional harm to students, it can also jeopardize their academic success and retention. People struggling with basic needs insecurity are more than ten times likely to fail a class with just 20% of students graduating after pausing their education due to financial struggles. 

Factors such as the decrease in public funding for higher education, a greater increase in tuition rates, and more students entering college without sufficient financial resources are causing college students to struggle. Pell Grants were created to help cover the cost of college for students who are financially struggling, but now these grants just barely cover 29% of the average cost of tuition. As a result, students must take out loans and get more jobs to cover educational costs that don’t include their daily living expenses. 

These days, more students with low income are opting out of college even though enrolling in college and getting a degree could help increase their chances of economic success because they face unavoidable nonacademic barriers. Therefore, helping students meet their basic needs involves understanding the academic and nonacademic barriers they face. One such barrier is helping them easily gain access to campus support. 

Students who were successfully able to receive emergency aid were able to use the funds to decrease financial stress, continue their education, and buy necessary materials for class. 69% of those who obtained emergency aid said that funding helped make graduation possible. As such, getting rid of financial barriers and investing in basic needs support while increasing ways to access postsecondary education is what we should aim for in order to help students achieve success and the support they need.

Supporting Student Basic Needs
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative

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