Securing the Basic Needs of College Students in Greater Philadelphia During a Pandemic: A #RealCollegePHL Report

Securing the Basic Needs of College Students in Greater Philadelphia During a Pandemic: A #RealCollegePHL Report

Philadelphia-area colleges and universities were reeling from the coronavirus pandemic as they entered fall 2020. Mirroring national trends, enrollment was down, particularly among those students most at risk of basic needs insecurity; fewer students completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); and college retention rates dropped. Students and faculty were stressed and anxious. By the end of the term, local hospitals spent weeks caring for almost a thousand Philadelphians suffering with and often dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

This report examines how Philadelphia-area students and institutions fared during that exceptionally challenging time. The data come from our sixth-annual #RealCollege Survey, which assessed students’ experiences of food and housing insecurity, homelessness, employment, mental health, and academic engagement. In the Philadelphia region, the survey was distributed to more than 82,700 students attending 13 colleges and universities, and taken by 8,953 students, yielding an estimated response rate of 11%.

Topics covered include:

  • Impacts of the pandemic on:
    • Students’ health, employment, and well-being
    • Parenting students’ childcare demands
    • Institutions’ budgets
  • Students’ basic needs security
  • Utilization of public and campus supports, including SNAP and emergency aid
  • Disparities in students’ needs and access to supports
  • Recommendations for policymakers, practitioners, and college leaders

This report is part of our #RealCollegePHL project.