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College Cost, Food, Housing Insecurity Burdens California Students

The cost of getting a college education and difficulty in maintaining a school-work balance is seriously impeding the success of many California students.

According to the California Student Aid Commission survey, 64 percent of students cited either college cost or balancing school and work responsibilities as a hurdle to their success.

Apart from the college cost, students have to spend nearly $18,000 a year on books and supplies, food, housing, transportation, and personal expenses. And many students don’t have enough resources to cover both tuition and non-tuition costs.

At the same time, 38 percent of students reported not having enough resources to cover tuition, while the other 35 percent said they have no resources to afford books and supplies.

The survey revealed that more than a quarter of California students are food and housing insecure. About 35 percent of students were classified as having low or very low food security, while 33 percent were found housing insecure.

Students of color, especially the black students and older students, are most likely to experience food and housing insecurity. The same was found even among those receiving Pell or Cal Grant aid. Over 50 percent of black respondents indicated the highest levels of housing insecurity, while another 45 percent reported food insecurity.

“The challenges I thought I would face paying for college have taken a back seat to the challenges I face paying for housing and food. I will be graduating next month and giving up my apartment to stay with friends and family. At 42 years of age, this was a difficult choice to make, but I cannot afford to keep up even my modest independence,” a student from Mid-Peninsula Area was quoted as saying in the report.

Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) has already introduced a Senate Bill 173 that proposes to address the problem of campus food insecurity by streamlining the application process and removing barriers college students commonly face when enrolling in Cal Fresh, nationally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The bill would require the State Department of Social Services to create a standardized form to be used by community colleges and universities to verify that a student possesses state or federal work-study for the purpose of assisting county human services agencies in determining the student’s potential eligibility for CalFresh on or before January 1, 2021.

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