Levin Leads Letter to Department of Ed Requesting New Studies on Food and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education

July 15, 2019
Press Release
Rep. Andy Levin and colleagues on the Education and Labor Committee asked the National Center on Education Statistics to solicit information about the basic needs of college students.

Congressman Andy Levin, vice chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and five of his Democratic committee colleagues on Friday sent a letter to National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) Commissioner James Woodworth asking the center to study college students’ basic needs including food and housing insecurity.

In addition to Rep. Andy Levin (MI-09), the letter was signed by Reps. Lucy McBath (GA-06), Gregorio Sablan (MP-AL), Alma Adams (NC-12), Susan Wild (PA-07) and Kim Schrier (WA-08).

“To write effective education policy, we have to know what students are experiencing—especially when it comes to their basic needs like housing and food security,” Rep. Levin said. “The NCES has the opportunity to include questions in a routine survey that would help us better understand what support students need to be successful in their education. Our letter urges them to take advantage of that opportunity. The bottom line is that college is a lot harder for students who don’t have secure housing or know where their next meal will come from. Let’s figure out how we can best address their needs.”

“For a college degree to be in reach for every American, we have to make sure the basic needs of all students are met. I’ve heard from several colleges in PA-07 that food insecurity is a serious challenge for our students,” Rep. Susan Wild said. “This letter urges NCES to gather federal data on college students dealing with housing and food insecurity issues so we can better advocate for policy initiatives which truly support their needs here in Congress and give students of all income levels the wraparound support and resources they need to enroll in and complete higher education.”

“On college campuses around the country, students struggle with high costs of tuition and student housing, mounting student loan debt, and perhaps the greatest threat to their well-being and academic success: hunger,” said Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “In our years of advocacy on this issue, MAZON has pressed for more comprehensive data on the scope of food insecurity on campuses so that Congress can establish meaningful solutions to ensure that students receive the help they need. We are grateful to Reps. Levin, Adams, McBath, Sablan, Schreier, and Wild for their efforts to make this possible by encouraging data from the National Center for Education Statistics.”  

Read the full letter HERE.

Specifically, the Members urged Commissioner Woodworth to include survey modules on basic needs in the upcoming administration of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). The NPSAS is a survey that compiles data on student-level records, financial aid provided by the federal government, the states, postsecondary institutions, employers, and private agencies, along with student demographic and enrollment data.

There is currently no national measure of food or housing insecurity among college students. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office revealed that the prevalence of food insecurity among college students ranged from nine to more than 50 percent.