The New College Crisis
Guest Post – Jason Lacsamana, Director, Programs and Partnerships
For many students, September is a month of excitement and anticipation. For some individuals and their family units, “try hard, work hard, and you’ll be okay” doesn’t apply. Several factors outside of the classroom impact their current and future well-being. Parents, educators, administrators, funders, and policymakers need a holistic approach to address education equity.
Recently, I shared an article about the student housing situation worldwide. You may not automatically equate housing with higher ed. But when I went to UCSD, tuition was affordable, and housing was accessible. Today, that is not the case. The housing market, the state of the economy, and other factors negatively impact those trying to go to college.
As a student, I remember a few situations where I knew six to seven people living in a two-bedroom apartment. But it isn’t anywhere like it is now. As a student, it’s much more calamitous. Couch surfing isn’t an option. Students are sleeping in cars, parks, and shelters. According to a 2022 survey, 52% of students at two-year colleges faced housing insecurity at some point in the year prior.
Some colleges are trying to help, but as we see in our communities, housing instability is multi-pronged. [Read More “The Student Housing Supply Crisis in America” – Rick Benbow, Regional Vice President, Western Governors University, Newsweek Experts]
It’s easy to suggest that students live at home, but that’s not an option for everyone.
College students also face food insecurity at very high rates. In my neighborhood, CSU Long Beach has a food pantry on campus. The pantry doesn’t just offer food. There are shelves of school supplies – essential to education. Long Beach isn’t novel. Thousands of college students must choose whether to pay tuition or pay for food, and it is incumbent on us to address this. You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have any boots.
A Growing Crisis On Campus
These are signs of a growing crisis that will reach a tipping point of irreversibly inequitable society. Without being vocal and going beyond the surface of equity, we will come to a point of no return. The question of what can be done is open-ended, but we all need to do something. That is not open for debate. Further inaction will bring severe ramifications for our communities.
Have you noticed the growing crisis for college students? Do you have ideas on what can be done? Or have you seen affordable and accessible housing and food programs on campus that work? I’m curious to see what’s in place that’s effective. If you aren’t already connected to the Fund, connect here, and let’s see if we can start working towards solutions.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.