By Nathan Parin
College is a unique experience for everyone. People start at 18 or 28, finish in four years or seven, join clubs or work, or even both. However, when one is in school it is almost guaranteed that there will be struggles, generally the biggest one being finances. It is rare that someone comes to school with a lot of money to spend that isn’t provided by family or a small nest egg. That being said, nests eggs run out quickly and family can ultimately be unreliable and emotionally and mentally trying. When one does not have a nest egg or family to be provided for it is extremely difficult. So why is it that this is acceptable in American society?
An assumption made about college students is that they should work more. Baby Boomers worked and put themselves through school and that is the ‘American way.’ Well that ideal is flawed and simply ignorant. From 1964-1982, roughly when Boomers were in school, America had a very healthy minimum wage and affordable cost of living. One could work as a server and put themselves through school. In 2019 working 20 hours a week as a server can maybe pay your cost of living, if you’re lucky. A full time college student can work a maximum of 20 hours a week on campus to be considered healthy and balance the workload that comes with being a full time student. Any more than that and things tend to slip and people end up failing classes, putting themselves further back. Going to school is not affordable by any means and minimum wage is too low to live off of, let alone when one is in school.
Even if one’s family is contributing financially to the cost of school and living that puts college kids in an insecure situation subject for a multitude of things to implode. At anytime those resources can be revoked for whatever reason the people providing the money see fit. It can be as miniscule as not agreeing with something you’re doing, say a class you’re taking, and poof, your resources are gone. It is emotionally and mentally tiring to have to rely on family to provide for you whilst in school. However, many students do not have another option, so they endure what can easily turn into emotional and mental manipulation in order to survive while in school.
The system is broken and frequently failing young Americans. College poverty is often overlooked or pushed to the side with the simple excuse that “everyone is poor while they are in college.” While that may be true it does not mean that it is okay for our society to push college poverty under the rug. Fortunately at CSU we do offer a great resource for students to access to nutritious food almost all year long. Lift Up Vikes is great for food and basic hygiene products, this can help offset the cost of surviving and is a gem on campus. LUV does not solve this massive issue, but it does help change lives of impoverished students in small ways.