The #RealCollege survey is the nation’s largest annual assessment of basic needs security among college students. The survey, which specifically evaluates access to affordable food and housing, began in 2015 under the Wisconsin HOPE Lab. This report describes the results of the #RealCollege survey administered in the fall of 2018 at all of the undergraduate campuses in the City University of New York (CUNY) system.

Nearly 22,000 students participated in the survey. We discovered:

  • Almost 1 in 2 students experienced food insecurity in the 30 days preceding the survey’s administration
  • 55% of those surveyed were housing insecure in the previous year
  • 14% of those surveyed were homeless in the year preceding the survey’s administration

Some of our recommendations for addressing the issues discovered in the CUNY #RealCollege survey include:

  • Modify Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) work requirements to allow community college vocational programs to count.
  • Change affordable housing rules regarding full-time versus part-time college enrollment; currently, students are penalized if they’re full-time students.
  • Consider developing a network of preferred landlords who offer deeply discounted time-limited rates on vacant apartments to students at risk of homelessness.