Facing Homelessness as a College Student

When you think of homelessness, who do you picture? Likely adults who have been left homeless after losing a job or someone living on the streets after facing a crippling addiction. We don’t typically picture college students among those facing homelessness, but sadly, that’s the reality. 

The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice conducted a survey of nearly 86,000 students in which they found that 18% of respondents attending two-year colleges were affected by homelessness, along with 14% of students attending four-year colleges. 

Most students affected by homelessness don’t even realize they’re considered homeless. They have a school they get to attend regularly, they have a community they’re part of, and they might even have access to meals on campus. But with the high prices of rent and tuition, as well as many students paying their own way through school without the support of relatives, students are finding themselves struggling to pay for a place to stay. 

Many will sleep in their cars, on friends’ couches, or even in local shelters. They may not be on the street, but they don’t have a stable home. This lack of stability can lead to many students neglecting their studies or even dropping out of college. 


No one should have to doubt their future because they can’t afford basic necessities. 


How you can help: 

    • Reach out. Reach out to college students in your circle and check in on them regularly. Do they have a stable place to stay, and are they able to eat regularly? Remember that most students facing homelessness are afraid to ask for help, so reach out to them. 


  • Be aware. Look out for signs that a college student you love might be struggling with homelessness. If you notice clothes, blankets, and other belongings in their car, this might be what they’re calling home. If you notice they’re not eating regularly or if they seem to be struggling with their grades suddenly, open up the conversation. 


    • Create a safe space to talk. If you know a college student is struggling with homelessness, open up a space to talk without judgment. College can be stressful enough without having to worry about where you’ll sleep at night or where your next meal will come from. Create a welcoming environment where the student can be open and honest with you, and where you can work together to find a solution. 


  • Point them in the right direction. Sometimes students need a little extra help getting back on their feet after facing homelessness. We would love to help. You can point them to one of our shelters or contact us here.  


It all starts with awareness. Every story is different, but every story can result in a life transformed. Remember that homelessness can look different and can affect anyone around us. 


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