Guide to Assessing Basic Needs Insecurity in Higher Education

Fall 2019

Christine Baker-Smith, Vanessa Coca, Elizabeth Looker, Sara Goldrick-Rab

Basic needs security is a critical component of collegiate success, one discounted by high school grades and standardized test scores. If a student has not eaten or slept enough the night before a class or an exam, they can have difficulty mastering the material or performing well. Assessing food and housing insecurity among students may help answer questions such as: How many students could benefit from additional resources like campus food pantries, emergency aid, or crisis housing? Which types of students ought to be flagged for additional outreach by early alert systems? To what extent should the security of students’ basic needs become a campus priority? This guide outlines how to conduct your own survey to assess basic needs security at your institution.