The media is taking the idea of poor college students and making it a cause for the expansion of the welfare state.
If you’re a college student who can’t afford food or housing, then maybe you shouldn’t be paying tuition.
If all these students who can’t really afford college stopped trying to go then colleges would be forced to lower the price of tuition. The market would solve the problem. But instead this story suggests that students need more generous government loans and other forms of federal aid. Or even that scholarships should cover food and housing!
The Kansas City Star reports, “Think college students are privileged? Nearly a third are hungry and homeless.”
According to a first-of-its-kind survey of two- and four-year private and public schools, 36 percent of students on college campuses in the U.S. do not get enough to eat.
On Wednesday afternoon just after the noon lunch hour, the UMKC Kangaroo Pantry opened its doors to a short line of students needing food. Katie Garey, who manages the pantry, and a student volunteer were busy stuffing plastic bags with nonperishable food items requested by the handful of students who filled out order forms that day.
“We are pretty busy,” Garey said. “At the end of the semester, we start recognizing that students no longer have food on their meal plans or maybe their financial aid has run out or they have given up a job so they can study, so they no longer have that income.”
And that lost income could also impact housing. Nearly as many of those who are food insecure don’t have secure housing. The U.S. Department of Education describes the homeless as “lacking fixed, regular, adequate housing,” which includes those living in shelters, hotels, cars, tents or “couch surfing” at friends’ houses.
While it found that 36 percent of university students and nearly half of community college students surveyed fit the category of “housing insecure” in the past year, it also found that 9 percent of university students were fully homeless, as were 12 percent of community college students.
The study led by Temple University Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab and her team at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab speaks to a national trend impacting students in Missouri and Kansas, but only the University of Central Missouri was among the 65 colleges and universities that participated in the survey.
Those examining the national situation don’t place the blame on rising college costs alone. Other factors may include inadequate financial aid packages and the fact that today more low-income students have access to college through the help of tuition grants, federal loans and scholarships that don’t always pay for food or housing.
By the way, the media has run this story before. Here are reports from two and then three years ago:
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