Survey reveals struggles of Kentucky’s 2-year college students

Published 2:22 pm Thursday, April 20, 2023

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Fifty-two percent of students from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) who participated in a new study by Trellis Research said they were housing insecure and more than 25% said they had low food security.

KCTCS survey participants also said they have concerns about their overall finances. Two thirds of those surveyed said they would have trouble getting $500 in cash or credit in an emergency, while 26% said they would not be able to get that amount from any source. These numbers are slightly higher than those reported by other students from public, two-year colleges who took the survey.

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KCTCS has 16 colleges across Kentucky with nearly 100,000 students, including about 5,200 students at the SKCTC.

A total of 63% of KCTCS students participating in the survey said they were aware their college offered support services to help with financial issues. Twenty percent said they had received emergency aid from their college.

“We know our students face a number of nonacademic barriers, which can impede their ability to come to class or even stay enrolled in college,” said KCTCS Acting President Larry Ferguson. “Over the last several years, our colleges created food pantries to assist our students who need food and hygiene items, and that is just one way we are helping break those nonacademic barriers.”

KCTCS officials say it’s undeniable that food pantries are essential. For example, so far this academic year, more than 900 Owensboro Community and Technical students have visited the Pathfinder Pantry to receive food and hygiene products.

Other findings from the Trellis survey of KCTCS students showed:

• 59% worry about having enough money to pay for school.

• 37% ran out of money six or more times in the past year.

• 73% use Pell or other grants to pay for college. This is higher than the national rate of 62% for public, two-year college students.

• 48% indicated experiencing generalized anxiety disorder and 34% said they suffered from depression. This is nearly identical to the national numbers for public, two-year college students.

On the positive side, three quarters of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed the cost of college is a good investment for their financial future. KCTCS says this is contrary to some recent surveys about four-year universities.