Meeting the basic needs of food and housing security is a multidimensional challenge for communities across the country, including those in higher education. Today, expenses other than tuition can account for more than 60 percent of the total cost of attending a college or university. Over the past four decades, the cost of living for college students has increased by over 80 percent.
The University of California (UC) is dedicated to ensuring the success of its more than 260,000 students and as such, has embarked on a comprehensive effort on how to identify, assess and help solve the housing and food security challenges students experience. UC has been focused on food security since the inception of the UC Global Food Initiative in 2014 and has been instrumental in shaping the state and national conversation around students’ basic needs challenges. One of the fundamental issues related to the question of housing security is the existence of a recognized or validated set of questions that national, state and scholarly researchers agree upon as an accurate survey instrument.
In 2018, as part of a GFI funded project, a housing insecurity study was commissioned, “Defining Student Basic Needs in Higher Education: An Exploratory Study on Housing and Food Insecurity Among University of California Students.” The purpose of the proposed study outlined in the following pages is twofold: 1) to explore the issue of student housing insecurity across our UC campus communities, and 2) to develop, vet and validate housing-related questions to accurately measure housing security.
Redefining Student Basic Needs