Why Are So Many College Students Homeless?

“It’s hard waking up not knowing where you are going to live every day,” Aquantay Morris tells CBS SF Bay Area.

The Laney College student is one of thousands of homeless college students across the country. They couch-surf with friends, sleep in their cars and spend nights in shelters or on the streets.

Bay Area city councilor Abel Guillen recently stayed a few nights in a tiny house to draw attention to the problem. He just got a grant to supply “pocket houses” for some of the students from the largest community college in town.

One in seven Laney students doesn’t know where they’re going sleep each night.

The homes may be small, but they’re a step up for those forced out of stable housing to afford their education.

“These tiny homes offer dignified housing for students who currently do not have a home,” Guillen tells CBS. “At the tiny home site, students will also receive individualized wrap-around support services as they move toward finding more permanent housing – and pursue their studies.”

But the problem of homelessness extends far beyond Oakland.

According to 2015 data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, 58,000 college students are homeless nationwide. As AOL notes, FAFSA is one of the only reliable resources for this information because schools aren’t required to track it.

While many groups watch out for K-12 youth, college students often fall through the cracks. When faced with covering tuition and supplies, as well as health care and other personal expenses, housing can become difficult — or impossible– to afford.

Student poverty manifests in other ways, as well. Hundreds of schools like North Carolina’s Surry Community College and Tennessee’s George Washington Carver College host food pantries for their hungry students.

According to a 2016 report, almost one in four college students is extremely food insecure. Fifteen percent of those hungry students were homeless at one time during the past year.

Academic and HOPE Lab founder Sarah Goldrick-Rab tells The New York Times that students are struggling for a variety of reasons, from the skyrocketing cost of an education to the lack of well-paying jobs for those without a college education:

One of the nuances here is that there are people going to college who didn’t used to go. If you didn’t have a parent with a college degree in the past, you didn’t go to college. If you were a foster youth, you didn’t go to college. It’s a big triumph that we have expanded access in this way, but we didn’t change the schools and we didn’t change the policies.

Hopefully, programs like Oakland’s pocket houses will start to chip away at the problem, as colleges and cities begin to address the root causes.

Photo Credit: Nicole Honeywill/Unsplash

49 comments

Karin Holstein
Karin Holstein3 days ago

Shocking! This is supposed to be the land of opportunity! The corporations need to really start adding jobs instead of making the people who do work come in early, work through lunch and do overtime until time for bed.

Go part time to college and do not take out any loans. What happened to the parents? Just because a person has a college degree does not mean a job with more than minimum wage.

This is disgraceful. Too much greed in this country!

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Caitlin L
Caitlin L13 days ago

Thanks for posting this

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Lindsay K
Lindsay K26 days ago

This is shocking. Students may technically be adults, but they are still very vulnerable and inexperienced. They need all the support they can get! How is being homeless conducive to study?

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Kathy G
Kathy G26 days ago

Thank you

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Kathy G
Kathy G26 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p27 days ago

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p27 days ago

thanks for sharing

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danii p
danii p27 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Elizabeth M
Past Member 29 days ago

many thanks

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Toni W
Toni W29 days ago

TYFS

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