State Strategies for Addressing College Students’ Basic Needs

Across the country, governors and other state officials understand the vital role college plays in workforce preparation to increase the competitiveness of their state economies. However, neither students’ and families’ incomes nor Pell Grants and other student aid have kept up with the cost of college, making affordability a significant barrier to college completion and successful entry into the workforce. In fact, college students struggle to afford costs beyond tuition – too often they struggle to meet their basic needs for housing, food, and health care. Key support programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), child care subsidies, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provide financial or other supports that could help students and their families meet those needs. States have limited flexibility to alter and improve some public benefit rules in order to improve student access to these programs. This brief by Lauren Walizer discusses what CLASP has learned from working with states to enact such changes and develop a comprehensive and collaborative strategy to dedicate themselves to this work long-term.