Some community college students struggle to meet basic needs, the report says

Ebro before the pandemic Food and housing insecurity were issues for college students, and as of 2020, some institutions have increased efforts to ensure the basic needs of students.

A new report released Wednesday provides an in-depth look at how food and housing issues played out among an often vulnerable higher education population — community college students — during the pandemic’s most difficult months.

Nearly a third of students were food insecure and nearly one in seven were housing insecure, according to the report Mission Critical: The Role of Community Colleges in Meeting Students’ Basic Needs.

The data in the report, compiled by the Center for Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, is based on a spring 2021 survey of more than 82,000 students at 194 institutions, though not all students answered every question.

Those who were more likely to report having run out of food in the past month, an indicator of food insecurity, were underrepresented minority students. Nearly half of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students, 43 percent of black students, and 41 percent of American Indian or Alaska Native students said this was the case for them.

Of the 62 percent of respondents who had rent or mortgage payments in arrears, around one in four said they had failed to pay those payments in full at some point in the past 12 months. The proportion of students who could not fully cover their utility bills was about the same.

“Our report reveals that some community college students are in dangerous situations that may affect their ability to attend college and meet their goals,” Linda García, the center’s executive director, said in a news release.

Community College Registration fallen more than in any other sector during the pandemic. The report says two-year colleges that want to attend and maintain their current enrollment must do more to support students who are hungry or without permanent housing. Less than half of students who needed help with food in the past year and one in five of those who needed help with housing reported receiving help from their college.

Here’s more data on how community college students are dealing with food and housing issues:

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