College Costs Push Students to Food Stamps

grocery cart filled with food
Students and graduates are having a hard time managing college loan payments, but now reports show they are having trouble eating. According to the Washington Post, an increasing number of students are being pushed to survive on food stamps.

Across the country there are 47 million people on food stamps due to a weak job market and slow economy. Part of this tragic number are young students who wish to gain an education using college loans in order to have a better chance of success in their lives.

A prime reason that students have been forced into such desperate times is the changing financial situation of their parents. In the past, many looked to their parents as a source of monetary support in times of financial stress. Students parents could be relied upon for college loan payments and helping with college living expenses. Unfortunately, the recession put everyone into financial stress, parents included. Older generations have lost their jobs and homes, leaving little funds available for anything aside from survival. As a result, students feel the crush of college costs so much that they scarcely have money left for food.

“I never thought I would be on food stamps as a student, but with this economy I had no choice. Even with the money I’m making from working 22 hours a week, I wouldn’t be able to afford tuition, living expenses and food,” said Courtney Davis, a Howard University student, according to the Washington Post.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly called food stamps, is managed by the Department of Agriculture. Even though the Department of Agriculture does not track how many college students enter the program, certain states monitor the statistics themselves. These states have noticed a rise in college-aged applicants, some of which are already burdened with college loans.

“I didn’t realize so many students here were on food stamps, but it’s becoming a trend from what I’ve noticed,” said student Darius Thomas to the Washington Post.

Food stamps have long held a social stigma due to being associated with poverty—a far cry from the American dream of prosperity. As times got harder in recent years the social stigma has lessened since more and more people were grudgingly forced to join SNAP.

“When I was growing up, being on food stamps was frowned upon as it meant that your family was poor, but now that so many people have been forced to take advantage of it, it’s become socially acceptable. Without them, I simply would not eat,” said British Fields, another Howard student, according to the Washington Post.

Unfortunately, many states have grown so suspicious of students using SNAP that crackdowns have begun. In Michigan, the Department of Human Services cut 30,000 students from SNAP. It remains to be seen if these impoverished students will be able to shrug off SNAP and have enough money in the future to pay their college loans while simultaneously being able to afford food.