Tuition Is Just One of Many Challenges for Community College Students

Though perhaps not the most pressing, believe it or not.

A new study shows that tuition isn’t the only thing that community college students have on their minds these days. The report, which surveyed thousands of students nationwide, found that more than one in 10 experienced homelessness as a community college student, and over half had a hard time keeping food on the table at some point. Many students had a difficult time paying rent and utilities. Others described needing to change their living situation, such as by moving in with other people, in order to cut costs.


The authors of the study see their research as casting new light on the experiences of “hardworking” students who struggle to get by. They say that policy conversations about streamlining financial aid and loan processes are only scratching the surface of the challenges facing weary students.

Big Think Chief Economist Daniel Altman offers an offbeat alternative to student debt. Genius or crazy?


A recent piece by The New York Times profiles a woman who represents much of the study data; she found herself temporarily homeless in trying to keep up with her expenses during college, and ended up needing to drop out to pull her life back together. Unfortunately, students who drop out often have debt, and many continue to struggle under financial burdens without the benefit of a degree.

The study results are a challenge to those who might suggest those struggling in low-wage jobs should simply use the community college system to get a leg up to a better life. Putting one’s nose to the grindstone and sheer determination won’t be enough to conquer the financial realities of attending community colleges.

Even for those who understand that college costs can quickly add up, the conversation has stalled on tuition in the past. President Barack Obama tried this year, for example, to pass a bill for tuition-free community college. If such a policy change were to happen, it would undoubtedly provide much-needed support for America’s community college students. However, it will always be critical to keep in mind that the struggle of students isn’t just over tuition; it’s about housing, food, and general livelihood. With a holistic perspective, we might be able to make community college something that all students have the luxury to get through with more ease.

--

Stefani is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time, she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors.  Follow her on Twitter:@stefanicox

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less