Based on studies from the National Center for Education Statistics, 29 percent of college students nationwide come from households with incomes below $20,000.
In addition to taking classes, 79 percent have to work full time or part time just to make ends meet, and 35 percent are parents or have people who are dependent on them.
Overall, 51.8 percent of college students live off campus without the help of relatives and live within the poverty rate.
From a national standpoint, it can be easy to look at these statistics and think that, while disappointing, they couldn’t possibly be this high at any specific university. The ugly truth is that, even at NSU, we have plenty of students who are truly struggling.
Although the university offers helpful services such as the food pantry and opportunities for financial aid, this alone is not enough to fix the problem. Thinking about issues like student poverty and financial hardship can be overwhelming because there is no immediate solution any one person can employ; however, raising awareness and eliminating the stigma attached to it are ways that society can become more understanding.
Xandria Petty, a junior psychology major, recalls how tough it was to move from Tennessee to attend NSU and how much she had to give up and adjust without in-state benefits such as TOPS.
“My family has always been poor; I grew up with seven other people and not much money flowing,” Petty said. “As time passed, my siblings and I learned how to humble ourselves and asked for help. My little brother and I would gather snacks every other Friday from the counseling center in elementary school, and they would also give us clothes and a lot of support, much like the food pantry here.”
With the rise of social media, it has become easier to voice individual opinions, some of which can be misinformed, ignorant or even harmful.
Politicians and media outlets often speculate on these issues to push their agendas, sometimes wrongfully labeling an entire group. Sidestepping the entire issue, some even rebrand the destitute and the impoverished as “lazy” or “entitled.”
“Some people refuse to understand and acknowledge that these people are not lazy or entitled to handouts, but that they just need help,” Petty said.
For any students that need a little extra help, the NSU Food Pantry is open Mondays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is available to all NSU and BPCC students with a student ID and valid sticker.
Donations can be dropped off at Watson Library, the social work department in Kyser Hall 343 and the Food Pantry located at the Trisler Power Plant on Central Avenue. The pantry relies on donations from students, faculty and especially the community to provide for students who might be struggling