There are more than 58,000 homeless college students in America today, according to Free Application for Federal Student Aid data from the 2012-2013 academic year. The figure — which does not account for students who either do not realize they qualify as homeless (i.e. couch-surfers) or those who choose not to report their cases out of fear or shame — marks a more than 75% increase over the previous three years.

“One in 10 Feeding America clients are college students” (p. 6, College & University Food Bank Alliance, 2015).

Students experiencing food insecurity often also suffer from housing insecurity, such as difficulty paying the rent, mortgage, or utility bills according to the report “Hunger on Campus, The Challenge of Food Insecurity for College Students” by four campus-based organizations – the College and University Food Bank Alliance, the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, the Student Government Resource Center, and the Student Public Interest Research Groups. In addition, 

  • 64% of food insecure students reported experiencing some type of housing insecurity.
  • 15% of food insecure students reported experiencing some form of homelessness – the most extreme form of housing insecurity – in the past 12 months.

Problems with food or housing harm students’ educational efforts. Of the food insecure students in the study, 32% believed that hunger or housing problems had an impact on their education. These students reported a range of consequences:

  • 55% reported that these problems caused them to not buy a required textbook;
  • 53% reported missing a class; and
  • 25% reported dropping a class. reports that:

  • 61.8% of homeless youth reported depression 
  • 71.7% reported experiencing major trauma such as physical or sexual abuse
  • 79.5% experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder for more than a month.


Amey, M. J. (Ed.). (2007). Collaborations across educational sectors. Number 139. Fall 2007. Jossey-Bass. ISBN: 978-04702-55247

Dukes, C., Lee, C., & Bowman, D. (2013). College access and success for students experiencing homelessness: A toolkit for educators and service providers. Retrieved from Mathews, B. (2015). College & university food bank alliance: Campus food pantry toolkit.

National Coalition for the Homeless

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

National Center for Homeless Education

National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness