COVID-19 has pushed more students into food and housing insecurity, Temple report says
Three in five university students across the country experienced food or housing insecurity in 2020, despite increased funding from the CARES Act, according to a study at Temple University.
The report was produced by the Temple-based company Hope Center for College Community and Justice, known as the country’s largest insecurity of basic student needs survey, to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on undergraduates across the country.
About 195,000 two- and four-year college and university students, including students from Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, responded to the survey.
More than a quarter of students skipped meals or reduced the size of their meals at least once in 30 days, according to the report. In addition, housing insecurity increased by 10% in 2020, with many students admitting they could not afford rent and utilities.
The recession that immediately followed the pandemic hit employment in the United States particularly hard, and students were equally affected. More than one in three people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, and a quarter have worked less or for less money.
“I was doing pretty well just over a year ago. Now … I spend every day looking for work, worrying about food and rent, (and) how to pay even a little. to keep going to school – because I’m sunk if I don’t, and get calls from collection agencies, even legal action from a credit card company. It’s hard to focus on l ‘school,’ said an anonymous student in Hawaii. in the report says.
Emergency assistance from the federal government increased last year and $ 6 billion in federal funding was distributed to colleges and universities across the country, in accordance with the CARES Act.
Yet despite the obvious need for funding and assistance programs, 52% of students said they didn’t apply because they didn’t know how, said Sara Goldrick-Rab, founder of the Hope Center. and professor of sociology of the Temple. .
“It’s part of the design of the program. This is called a “learning cost”. It is a form of administrative burden ”, she said WHY. “When it’s hard for someone to find something, it actually limits who gets help.”
The investigation also revealed significant racial disparities. Students of color reported basic needs insecurities at a higher rate than white students: 75% of native people, 70% of blacks, 66% of Pacific Islanders or native Hawaiians, and 64% of Latino students, versus 54% of white students surveyed.
Many students have been affected by COVID-19 itself, as more than 40% had a close family or friend diagnosed with the virus, 13% of students had a family or friend who died from COVID-19, and 7% of the students themselves were infected.
Mental health was a challenge across the board for students, with many respondents admitting to having difficulty concentrating in class.
If the problem persists, colleges and universities could face even bigger budget deficits due to shrinking student populations and tuition income.
“Unless the students who need it most get the right support, they’re unlikely to go to college. Even if they register, they are more likely to stop, ”the report reads. “Institutions are at risk of facing budget shortages for several years, and there is great uncertainty about when students can safely return to campuses.”