College Students CATCH A Break
(RepublicanNews.org) – Inflation is impacting Americans from nearly all walks of life, but those enrolled in higher education are especially feeling the pinch. For many, simply getting through college was already a financial struggle, but COVID-19 restrictions and inflation amplified the problem. As increasing numbers of students can’t afford to eat, many higher education institutions are doing what they can to help.
Feeling the Pain
Educational leaders across the country, like President Roslyn Clark Artis of Benedict College, are finding their students can’t afford to pay for transportation, food, rent, and utilities due to expanding price increases. Artis was hoping to teach her school’s football team about proper nutrition but instead learned a majority of players were food insecure.
A policy analyst for The Education Trust, Jessie Hernández-Reyes told Politico that inflation has created a struggle for students trying to find affordable meals. Attendees are also having trouble figuring out how they’re going to get back and forth to class every day.
Association of Community College Trustees vice president of public policy, Carrie Warick-Smith, mentioned that across the country, colleges are taking various steps to help students register and stay enrolled in higher education. She noted that some schools are offering food pantries, aid in applying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, tuition freezes, textbook exchanges, and housing partnerships to help students continue their path to higher education.
Many institutions, like Benedict College, are using a combination of their COVID-19 relief funds, donations, and grants to pay for the programs. Some are offering financial aid, free clothes, and other necessities to help attendees stay on course to earn their degrees. Others are providing students with bus passes and gas cards.
In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf’s wife, Frances Wolf, worked with Eric Hagarty, the state’s acting Secretary of Education, to start the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative. The program is aimed at helping students with food insecurities access free meals on campuses across the state. California, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Massachusetts are working on ways to provide relief for students in their university systems as well. Virginia and California also have expanded the eligibility requirements of those applying for SNAP benefits, allowing more access to the program.
While experts claim these actions will remain vital to student success, some college leaders are beginning to express concern about paying for them once their relief funds run out. Many institutions are uncertain of how they’ll continue to offer these lifelines.
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