Identifying ways to increase support for students who are unable to meet their basic needs will help more students graduate and not opt out of college. Many students struggle with lack of access to sufficient sources of food, housing, healthcare, transportation, and other living necessities, which affects their academic success and might ultimately cause them to forgo their education. Only around 20% of students who have to abandon their education due to financial issues are eventually able to graduate.

Higher education issues are likewise causing college students to struggle. Grants, scholarships, and estimated family contributions are rarely able to cover the full cost of attending college these days. As a result, more students need to take out loans and work while attending classes to cover educational costs that don’t include their living expenses. Unfortunately, more low-income students these days choose to opt out of college even though a college degree can help them move out of poverty. This is due to the non-academic barriers they face.

Therefore, in order to meet student basic needs, we need to better understand these barriers, such as those to accessing support. Half of students are aware of support but have not used them while others are completely unaware of the available support on campus. Students who are able to get emergency aid can pay for class materials, enrollment, and several living expenses while increasing their chances of getting a degree. 

As such, tearing down financial barriers and providing better basic needs support to low-income students can help more people graduate and live better lives in the future.

Supporting Student Basic Needs
Source: Kentucky Student Success Collaborative