Since 2008, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab (now the Hope Center) has examined food and housing insecurity among the nation’s undergraduates. We initially focused on Wisconsin, assessing prevalence of basic needs challenges in two samples of students—a cohort of Pell Grant recipients entering the state’s 42 public colleges and universities in fall 2008, and a cohort of low- and moderate-income students entering 10 public and private colleges and universities in 2012. Then we expanded to consider these challenges at colleges around the nation. Since there is no nationally representative survey of undergraduates that measures food or housing insecurity, surveying samples of students at colleges is the only option.
This report is about our third national survey. In 2017, we opened the invitation up to any college or university, 2-year or 4-year, public or private, offering to support their efforts to address students’ basic needs by collecting data to inform their practices. This year’s survey is a purely voluntary, non-random sample, and includes 66 colleges and universities, including 31 community colleges and 35 4-year colleges and universities from 20 states and Washington, D.C. In total, 43,000 students responded, including over 20,000 in the 4-year sector. This is, therefore, the largest national assessment of basic needs security among 4-year students.