#RealCollege 2020: Five Years of Evidence on Basic Needs Insecurity

5 years after it began, the #RealCollege survey has now reached more than 330,000 students at more than 400 colleges and universities!
A previously invisible crisis of basic needs insecurity is now evident, and we all have a part in addressing it.

Some of our key findings are:
• 39% of respondents were food insecure in the prior 30 days
• 46% of respondents were housing insecure in the previous year
• 17% of respondents were homeless in the previous year

Supporting students’ basic needs has many benefits for colleges and universities, especially in today’s difficult
economic climate. Here are five key reasons why institutions are doing #RealCollege work:

  1. Addressing #RealCollege issues boosts academic performance, helping the institution and its students retain federal financial aid. It also promotes retention and degree completion, helping the institution generate more tuition dollars and improving outcomes about which legislators care.
  2. Addressing #RealCollege issues reduces the barriers that returning adults face, boosting enrollment.
  3. Addressing #RealCollege issues makes the jobs of faculty and staff easier, as students are more able to focus on learning.
  4. Addressing #RealCollege issues creates bridges between the institution and community organizations, bringing new relationships and resources to bear. It also creates a productive opportunity for the private sector to engage with the institution to help create the graduates that everyone wants to hire.
  5. Addressing #RealCollege issues generates new philanthropic giving and creates opportunities to engage alumni who do not have much but will happily contribute to emergency aid.

There are many paths to implementing programs and policies to support students’ basic needs, several of which are
listed at the conclusion of this report. The Hope Center strongly recommends focusing on prevention, rather than only responding to emergencies.