A Different College Experience

By United Way of King County, on April 23, 2018 | In Helping Students Graduate

College: A time synonymous with fun, freedom, four (or more) years of finding oneself. Sure there was hard work, all-nighters spent studying and some lessons learned the hard way. But for most of us, those lessons learned were not ones like, how to ask your friends if you can stay on their couch for the third week in a row; or, what to do when you haven’t eaten a meal in a few days and are having a hard time concentrating.

According to new research, homelessness and hunger are widespread among college students.

The numbers included are from Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, but they are spot on to the numbers we have found here locally in King County:

  • 36% of college students say they are housing insecure—meaning they are at risk of eviction, behind on utility payments, etc.
  • 9% are experiencing homelessness.
  • 36% of college students are food insecure—which means they don’t know where their next meal will come from. This figure jumps to 42% when you break out ONLY community college students.
  • 9% of students reported they had gone at least one day without eating in the last month.

This is EXACTLY why we recently piloted the idea of Benefits Hubs on college campuses. Next we’re looking to take this effective approach to scale, from serving 3,000 students to 10,000 next year.

Benefits Hubs disrupts poverty by connecting students with financial tools to see their basic needs while they pursue an education and work to break the cycle of poverty themselves. After studying best practices, surveying hundreds of students, meeting with college leaders and piloting the program on four campuses, the Benefits Hubs provide these ten key services:

  • Emergency financial grants
  • Free tax preparation
  • Financial education, coaching and savings opportunities
  • FAFSA and WASFA assistance
  • Access to public benefits
  • Emergency food
  • Emergency housing resources
  • Transportation
  • Legal services
  • Child care

Why should schools focus on these students? The researcher said it best:

“Because these people have CLEARLY exhibited a resilience that almost any employer would benefit from.” —Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of higher-education policy at Temple University

We couldn’t agree more. Find out more about Benefits Hubs and make a gift to support these students today.


All comments are approved before they are posted to the site.