Housing Insecurity and College

Jan 8, 2019

by David Levine, CEO/President

Last month, the journal “Inside Higher Ed” published this article on the unmet financial needs for students attending college.  Not surprisingly, the gap between the costs of college (with living expenses) and the financial resources of the student to attend college grew 23 percent from 2012 to 2016.  

With stagnant family household incomes, and rising college costs, college students have to find other resources to cover the growing gap. Student loans and part-time jobs are two ways to bridge the gap.  But given the size of the gap, even these two tried-and-true solutions to covering college costs don’t help as much as they once did.

Plus, the authors go on to say: “The effect of this may be increased material hardship like food or housing insecurity… Difficulties making ends meet may also cause students to reduce the number of courses they take or drop or stop out altogether.” 

These hardships cause too many students to take on unsustainably large debt burdens, too.  If the students do not finish college, or do not secure higher-paying employment, the burdens can last quite a long time. (President Obama famously noted that he paid off his last student loan in 2005 — when he was 44 years old).

This gives us a perspective on how housing costs often burden us in other ways.  

A large housing cost burden means that there’s less money for medical expenses, childcare, groceries, and education.  With large housing cost burdens, students and their families  have even fewer financial resources.  The gap on the unmet needs for attending college just grew much wider, too. It’s become a real chasm.