Supporting students’ basic needs can help many graduate instead of opting out of college. College students across the country experience basic needs insecurity while they pursue an education. This includes challenges such as lack of housing, food, healthcare, transportation, and more. These issues can also lead to extensive emotional and mental health issues that could affect students’ ability to succeed at school.
A growing lack of financial support is causing many students to struggle. Pell Grants were developed to help cover most of the tuition costs, but these days they are able to cover less than half. As such, these students have to work while attending college. According to one public university in Kentucky, one out of five students ran out of money at least six times in the past year with at least 25% of two-year and four-year students reporting running out of money five times or more in a year.
Although low-income students are five times more likely to get out of poverty if they obtained a degree, most of these students are opting out of college. Students with low income get into college to increase their chances of economic success, yet the nonacademic barriers they have to overcome can ultimately leave them in debt with no degree. As such, meeting student basic needs means understanding the different kinds of challenges they face, one of which is barriers to accessing support. At least 50% of students are aware of campus support but have not used it while others are unaware of any support.
Those who are able to get financial support tend to be able to pay for their education and needs while increasing their chances of getting a degree. Therefore, it’s necessary to reduce financial barriers students face and better support their basic needs in order to help them achieve success.