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How Basic Needs Insecurity Hinders College Success

How Basic Needs Insecurity Hinders College Success

For low-income individuals, obtaining a college degree is one of the best ways to escape poverty. But the road to that degree is more daunting than many realize. Not only do low-income individuals struggle to pay education expenses, but many also face basic needs insecurity. In 2020 nationally, nearly 3 in 5 students lacked access to stable sources of food, shelter, and/or other living essentials. 

Facing hunger or homelessness is an issue in itself. When a college student deals with either, their academic performance suffers. Basic needs insecurity makes a college student 15 times more likely to fail a class. 1 in 4 students with these issues end up dropping classes to save money. Fewer than 20% of them graduate in 5 years or less. In the most dire cases, a student may drop out of college entirely. For dropouts that took out debt to fund their education, they’re left in a worse position than they started.

The good news is that many colleges have resources to help students afford food or housing. The bad news is that between 24% and 49% of students don’t know these supports exist. Of those that do, many worry about eligibility or procedure.

Supporting Student Basic Needs
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative