College Students Face Hunger and Homelessness
With rising tuition costs, college is becoming less affordable for some students. With the tough job market, several young adults are finding that the only way to be successful is with a college degree.
Graduate hopefuls like Diego Sepulveda, a 22-year-old UCLA student, are facing hunger and even homelessness to stay in school.
After Sepulveda lost his job at Subway, he had to be resourceful when it came time to find a place to sleep. Sometimes he would sleep on a couch in the college library. Other nights, he would find himself crashing in a friend’s living room. As for showers, he used the student activities center, which has a pool and locker rooms.
“You’re always thinking, ‘How am I going to pay for next quarter? How am I going to get through the rest of the days here at UCLA?” he says.
It wasn’t easy for Antonio Sandoval, head of UCLA’s Community Programs Office, to realize that so many students were going without food and shelter.
“It’s very affluent here, it’s Westwood, Bel Air, Beverly Hills,” Sandoval says. “Students who come to UCLA want to fit the norm here, so they’re not going to tell you they’re homeless, or they’re not going to tell you they’re hungry.”
But now, he has come to the understanding that several college students are feeling great financial strain, and the school is reaching out to help them.
Down the hall from his office is an unmarked pantry closet.
“It has a lot of soups and main meals you can cook like macaroni and cheese,” said Abdallah Jadallah, a 22-year-old engineering student.
Jadallah said he noticed that several of his classmates were going hungry and he wanted to help.
But UCLA isn’t the only university with hungry and homeless students. According to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, there’s a steady increase in the number of homeless students nationwide. Unfortunately there are no statistics to provide solid numbers.
“Some are taking out pretty large amounts of student loans to finance their education as well as their living costs. Some are enrolling part-time, some are even dropping out,” said Michelle Asha-Cooper, with the Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington, D.C.
But Sepulveda has no intention of dropping out.
“Nothing is going to stop me,” he says. “I’m going to reach my goals no matter what people say.”
Via National Public Radio
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