Food, housing insecurity an issue for half of WA college students

Jan 20, 2023, 1:43 PM
View down the sunny aisle of the Albert Hutzler Reading Room, a two-story silent reading room in the Brody Learning Commons of Johns Hopkins University; college students work at rows of tables with laptops and backpacks all around them; Baltimore, Maryland, March, 2014. Courtesy Eric Chen. (Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images).
(Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images)

A new survey of Washington college students finds that about half of the respondents have experienced food or housing insecurity or homelessness.

Washington State University conducted the survey with the Washington Student Achievement Council, involving some 9,700 students at 39 colleges and universities statewide.

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Of the respondents, nearly 4 out of 10 said they had skipped or reduced meals because they couldn’t afford food. About a third experienced housing insecurity because they couldn’t pay the rent, and just over 11% said they had been homeless for a time.

“This is the first state-level report on the prevalence of basic needs insecurity of college and university students in Washington, and likely in the nation,” said Ami Magisos, Associate Director of Policy and Planning at WSAC. “It aligns with national research, showing that Washington students are experiencing significant levels of food and housing insecurity, homelessness, and other unmet needs.”

A press release on the survey reads:

“Rates of basic needs insecurity were high across all regions in the state, from 45% in North Puget Sound to nearly 58% in South Central Washington. The level of basic needs insecurity was similar at two-year colleges (50.2%) and four-year colleges (48.8%). Among students experiencing basic needs insecurity, less than half had accessed basic needs support resources in the last six months: 48.9% accessed public resources, and only 33.8% accessed campus resources. Some student groups are disparately impacted by basic needs insecurity: American Indian/Alaska Native students and Black students reported experiencing basic needs insecurity at rates 20 percentage points higher than white students. Students formerly in foster care reported the highest rates of basic needs insecurity: 67.5% experienced food insecurity, and 23.7% experienced homelessness.”

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The survey found the group with the highest percentage of food and housing insecurity was students formerly in foster care.

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Food, housing insecurity an issue for half of WA college students