Ailts: The issue of college homelessness

It’s time to pay attention and demand change for students who are struggling financially.

by Ellen Ailts

Recent studies have confirmed that homelessness among college students is prevalent and on the rise. Temple University released a study that found 13-14 percent of surveyed community college students are homeless, as well as a third describing themselves as “food insecure.” A study by the University of Wisconsin earlier this year yielded the same results. 

As a college education becomes increasingly important in finding a meaningful career, more low-income students across the country are heading to college — but college expenses continue to rise. The number of federal aid applicants who identified as homeless in 2015 (more than 59,000) was almost double the number who did in 2009. Many of these students are without family support or don’t know their options in terms of financial aid — but even financial aid often doesn’t cover the rising cost of college. 

These students don’t deserve to be forced to forgo their academic careers and, potentially as a result, a fulfilling job; homeless college students should be provided with resources and programs that will help them stay on track. Our K-12 system has federal programs in place to direct students in need of resources that will help them stay in school. 

Similar programs should be made available to post-secondary students; steps have been taken here in Minnesota, where a bill, the Housing for Homeless Students Act, was introduced this February, but the bill seems to have been lost in the bureaucratic shuffle. 

We need to put pressure on our representatives to see this bill considered and enacted in our state — and nationwide, people should become aware of this often overlooked issue and demand to see change brought about.