Wis. study: Community college students struggling to afford basics

Wis. study: Community college students struggling to afford basics

A study released in March by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab shows students at community colleges across the country are struggling to afford basic necessities.

According to the study, around two-thirds of community college students are food insecure , half are housing insecure, one-third are regularly hungry and 14 percent are homeless.

Madison College Vice President of Student Development Keith Cornille said he’s seen students struggling more and more over the years, particularly when it comes to housing.

“It’s always been there because of the nature of the student that we work with in an environment like ours, but we have seen it grow,” Cornille said. “We’ve seen it become more challenging in difficulty because the cost of housing has increased so dramatically.”

Leslie Lazaro is one of those students. The second-year student in the school’s liberal arts program hopes to finish her psychology major at a UW System school. But right now, despite applying for scholarships and financial aid, paying for both school and housing in Madison has strained her family’s budget.

“Sometimes we come out short with me and my family, so I still live with my parents but sometimes we come out short on that mortgage,” Lazaro said. “Whenever we come out short, we try to come up with as much money as we can.”

Cornille says Madison College has been responding to those challenges.

He said the school has an emergency grant program to help students dealing with financial difficulty.

Madison College also recently started a shuttle route that stops at the River Food pantry.

Cornille also says MATC is partnering with other community organizations such as the Community Action Coalition to help assist students in need.

He said the issues students are facing aren’t unique to the Madison campus. He said many students at its outlying campuses in Fort Atkinson, Watertown, Reedsburg and Portage.

“We see the same things there,” Cornille said.