Capitol Weekly Features Op-Ed from Lande Ajose and Sara Goldrick-Rab

California Competes Executive Director Dr. Lande Ajose (left) and Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University and Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice Founder Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (right).

This week, Capitol Weekly published an op-ed co-authored by California Competes Executive Director Dr. Lande Ajose and Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University and Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice Founder Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab.

Higher education: Students’ basic needs not met

California is recognized as an innovative economic leader boasting access to world class higher education, yet the state is quickly being outpaced in the percentage of students who actually complete their degrees. What drives this chasm between shining opportunity and lackluster outcomes?

One reason is as simple as it is startling: Students’ basic needs are not being met. The overwhelming impact of nontuition expenses on completion is under-appreciated. The high cost of housing, textbooks, transportation and household financial responsibilities have deep implications for student success.

Food insecurity is one key factor derailing students from staying on course. Thousands of students cannot keep up because they aren’t getting enough to eat. They cannot focus on their studies, maintain their energy and sustain their physical and mental health. Forty-two percent of students will experience food insecurity at our public universities, and the number is likely much higher at the community colleges.  It’s no wonder that so many students don’t complete their degrees.

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