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Homeless College Students (video)

California College Students Facing Housing Crisis: Living in RVs and School Buses to Pursue Education

A Growing National Problem: 1.5 Million College Students Experiencing Homelessness

In a recent video, California college students shed light on a growing crisis: homelessness among students. Federal data reveals a staggering number – over 1.5 million college students across the U.S. face this harsh reality. California State University reports an even more alarming statistic – 10% of its student population struggles with homelessness.

Student Stories: Carrie, Brad, and Maddie Share Their Realities

CBS News producers bring us the stories of Carrie, Brad Butterfield, and Maddie Montiel, students who have found unconventional living arrangements to afford their education. Carrie calls a 20-year-old school bus home, while Brad lives in an RV. Maddie, on the other hand, has embraced RV life for almost five years.

Despite their circumstances, these students don’t necessarily feel “homeless.” For them, living in vehicles is a practical solution to the exorbitant costs of traditional college housing.

“This is becoming a norm for students to be able to afford college,” Carrie shares. “It’s much cheaper, and it’s the only way I would be able to go to school.”

Beyond Housing: Challenges of Constant Movement and Rising Costs

However, these students face challenges beyond just finding a place to sleep at night. Constantly moving their vehicles to comply with parking regulations is a constant source of exhaustion.

“The most difficult thing is just finding a place to exist,” Brad explains.

Maddie echoes his sentiment, adding, “We can only stay in one spot for 72 hours. It gets tiring having to move all the time. Being told to leave without being given a place to go feels like the city and university don’t want to see us.”

The rising cost of tuition adds another layer of stress. With projections indicating a 34% increase in tuition over the next five years, the financial burden on students becomes even heavier.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis,” Brad emphasizes. “You have to worry about power, water, and safety every night.”

Resilience Amidst Hardship: Students Call for Solutions

Despite these hardships, the students’ stories showcase resilience and resourcefulness. Carrie concludes, “We may have picked this lifestyle, but it shows we are resilient and creative.”

Their experiences highlight the urgent need for affordable housing solutions specifically for college students, particularly in states like California where the crisis is most severe.

Resources Available: How College Students Can Find Help

College students facing housing insecurity don’t have to go it alone. Several resources can help them find stable housing solutions. Their first step should be their college’s financial aid office. Financial aid packages can sometimes include funds specifically designated for housing costs. The financial aid office can also advise on scholarships, grants, and work-study programs that can ease the financial burden of college life.

Many colleges have dedicated housing offices that can be a valuable resource. These offices manage on-campus housing options, including dorms or apartments, and can connect students with available rooms or waitlists. They might also offer guidance on finding affordable off-campus housing that meets a student’s budget.

Government programs can also be a source of support. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers various programs, like Section 8 housing vouchers, that can assist low-income individuals, potentially including students. Students can find their local Public Housing Authority (PHA) through the HUD website to apply for these programs.

Colleges themselves often have support services departments dedicated to helping students in need. These departments can offer resources specifically for students facing homelessness or housing insecurity. They can connect students with emergency housing options, food assistance programs, and financial counseling to help them get back on track.

Scholarships and grants are another avenue to explore. There are scholarships and grants specifically designated to help students with housing costs. Searching online scholarship databases or checking with the college’s financial aid office can help identify such opportunities.

Finally, on-campus jobs can provide a unique solution. Working as a Resident Assistant (RA) often comes with free or reduced-cost housing along with a wage. Other on-campus jobs might also offer similar benefits, making them an attractive option for students struggling with housing affordability.

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