We’re talking about college students facing cost-prohibitive housing options and turning to fitness center facilities, coach-surfing, and shelters.
We’ve heard whispers of this story before. In July, NPR released a story about the confluence of rising education costs and a poor economy. The result, the story suggests, is financially-strapped college student struggling to meet the most basic needs – including food and housing. In December of last year, the Washington Post ran a column about a couple local students who were struggling to keep their head above water in classes while living in shelters. Change.org also featured a post about the rising number of homeless college students, suggesting that colleges and universities take into consideration the rising cost of living as well as the rising cost of higher education.
But only lately has the problem shown up – live and on the phone – in our own offices. We’ve had students call and want to know how to navigate financial aid bureaucracy in order to qualify for more housing aid. We’ve had students call simply to see if we can help them find housing or housing assistance. It came to such a point that our administrative staff asked, in staff meeting, for resources that we can share with these young people who turn to us for support – usually as a last resort as we do no provide any direct assistance or professional referrals.
Though we work on homelessness and housing issues daily, I found it alarming to hear these stories come straight to my phone set – and from such an (as I thought) unexpected demographic.
Tell us what you’re seeing out there. Is this a problem that you’ve encountered as well? Are young people across the country really struggling to attend school while maintaining housing? Are there resources that we can share with students who call in looking for help?
Please share your stories and let us know!