Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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‘Shocking’ report shows skyrocketing number of California college students struggling to pay for food, housing

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A new report shows a skyrocketing number of California college students struggling to pay for food and housing.

The California Student Aid Commission [CSAC] released a survey on Thursday that showed food and housing insecurity increased drastically among financial aid recipients in college from the 2018-2019 to 2022-2023 school year.

“Students at California State University (CSU), California Community Colleges (CCC), private non-profit, and private for-profit schools all reported experiencing above-average rates of food insecurity,” the report stated.

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The survey, conducted in May and based on 23,687 responses, found that 53% of college students claimed to have housing insecurity and that 66% were food insecure. The results show a spike from a 2018-19 survey that found 36% of students were housing insecure and 39% food insecure.

Another finding in the survey showed students who had meal plans still had an issue with food security. According to the survey, 62% reported being food insecure while living on campus with a meal plan because the meal plans did not cover enough meals for one week and at the same time disqualified students from food assistance programs like Cal-Fresh.

The report explained further that economic inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic made securing food and housing needs a challenge.

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The Executive Director of CSAC, Marine L. Garcia, called the results “shocking.”

“The results of this year’s survey are shocking and demonstrate that the basic needs crisis our students face is persistent and intensifying for students across all segments of higher education. In this survey, we found that over two-thirds of students were identified as food insecure while over half were housing insecure,” she said.

Garcia added that students who were most likely to experience housing and food insecurity were “female, low-income, African American, Latinx” and older students working to pay for school and often while parenting.

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“These and other findings tell a story of higher education dreams becoming even harder to realize, especially for students who face disproportionate barriers to reaching those dreams.”

Furthermore, the demographic of students who struggled to procure housing and food were 24 and older, attending a community college or private for-profit institution, and eligible for “Zero Expected Family Contribution.”

“Yet, despite the obstacle of costs, most students remained steadfast in their belief that college is a worthwhile investment,” the report stated.

The survey comes after CSU in July proposed increasing its tuition for the 2024-2025 school year.

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