Low-income students are among those learners who face specific challenges in terms of finances and access to additional opportunities. It often makes higher education barely possible since students are either unable to afford chosen courses or have to struggle way more than others. Thankfully, one can turn to college help for low income families that includes certain scholarships and helpful resources that will help to receive financial assistance.
According to statistics, about fifty percent of students from high-income families can receive their four-year college education as they reach the age of 25. As for low-income families, only 10% of college students can afford that. It is also revealed that those people who only have a high school diploma make about $17,000 less per year than those individuals with a college degree. After all, anyone with a college degree has way more chances of finding proper employment. Turning to the unemployment rate in August 2019, high school graduates rate was at 3.6%, while associate's degree learners had it at 3.0%. Finally, those with a bachelor's degree and higher represented only 2.1%. As the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to close, the rates were this way:
- high-school graduate with no college: 17.3%
- college or associate degree: 15.0%
- bachelor's degree and higher: 8.4%
It shows that family income has a direct link to a person's possibility of getting a proper degree. It has a crucial effect on employment and steady income. It is one of the reasons why students coming from low-income families must seek additional help and resources to earn a college degree and learn without all the apparent challenges that are unknown to students without budget strains.
The College Barriers Low-Income Students Face And Ways to Overcome Them
Even if a low-income family student gets enrolled, certain financial challenges will still continue. One must not only get in college but also stay there by paying all the additional tuition and transportation costs that are inevitable. If one adds relevant food and clothes costs, it becomes hard to cope with all the expenses without low-income financial aid. Here are some difficulties one must consider:
- An overall lack of resources like having a professional mentor or additional help. It is one of those aspects that can be addressed with the help of a college advisor or a legal consultant who can help build up a strategy to receive financial aid and other types of assistance.
- Little to no family support in terms of finance or participation. It is a mental factor that will always differ from family to family, yet one should talk to the family and discuss your financial aid opportunities together.
- Inability to choose the right college and no paid assistance with the completion of financial aid forms. Of course, students that come from low-income families are limited in their academic choices. This is why one must consider various scholarships and financial aid programs when getting enrolled. The same relates to the completion of financial forms where your college advisor or admission committee officer can help you along.
- Good nutrition and clothes become a problem. Starting from a good savings plan and cooperation with your roommates to financial aid and free online courses, one can save and focus on discounts for students when purchasing accessories or planning your meals.
- - Transportation and payments for additional tuition aspects like laboratory work. This aspect can be addressed with the help of scholarships for low-income students and discussing things with your academic advisor.
Without a doubt, low-income students and college learners must turn to resources for low-income students that can be either based on their college choice or be global. As an example, one can approach Student Support Services hosted by the U.S. Department of Education. If you belong to low-income, homeless, or first-generation college students, it is a good place to start as you are looking for basic information.
In addition to that, low-income students also face the following challenges:
- Readiness to Take College Entrance Exams. Since such students do not have any financial means to get prepared by paying tutors or purchasing course preparation materials, they have lower scores with the standard tests, which makes it quite difficult to get enrolled. As a solution, one may consider the so-called "basic" curriculum. It has four years of English, three years of Math, then Science and Social Studies.
- Extra Academic Assistance. It is one of the most challenging aspects since extra tutoring costs money. Thankfully, one can approach free academic resources and online courses like Coursera to study with the help of free books and online materials.
- Financial Aid Paperwork. Even though it is not directly related to your income, it can also become easier if you can pay someone to do this kind of work. However, it is your legal right to approach any financial aid office.
- College Application Fees. Consider college waive, visit your college in person, and discuss your financial needs.
In addition to that, students with limited funds face various daily disruptions. For example, low-income parents may face a lack of affordable childcare, belonging to the first generation of college students, then having financial aid obligations that must be met. Moreover, there is even more pressure to succeed while being not ready for all the academic challenges.
The List of Specific Low-Income Challenges Resources
Without a doubt, college life is not easy not only for low income students since one has to manage it all independently and evaluate available resources and responsibilities. It is even more difficult when a student feels disadvantaged, which can easily lead to depression and anxiety. Even though this stress may seem endless, the resources below will help you address at least one of the issues:
- Student Housing Services. First of all, you must turn to campus housing options and discuss your financial state. It will let you study your possibilities and the list of on-campus resources that are meant for students facing financial challenges.
- Community Shelters. You may consider temporary residence facilities if temporary housing is an option for you. It is a good way to find a place to stay until you can find permanent housing or wait for better opportunities to appear.
- HUD. Turning to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, you can study available options for students in need.
- Single Stop USA. It is a great resource for low-income people and families, as well as underprivileged students belonging to community colleges.
Food and Living Essentials
- Campus Food Pantry. The chances are high that your university has a food bank. Such outlets also provide toiletries and clothing options for low-income students.
- Emergency Meal Fund. It allows students who have food leftovers to donate them to hungry students. There is also an app that matches students in need with those who donate.
Additional College Income
- Work-Study Programs. Consider on-campus job offers for the students. It is a job that is related to your college course that helps to meet your financial and academic needs at the same time.
Consider various emergency loans for your unexpected expenses. If you are risking dropping out of school, it is one of the options to consider.
Consider turning to mental health services in college as it is provided free of charge in most cases.
Remember that many universities and colleges offer direct health insurance for students at reasonable options. If you are in financial need, you may have additional offers.
College Financing & Scholarships for Low-Income Students
As a rule, winning at least one scholarship will help you pay for college and improve your financial state. For example, the first entry in our list is not really a scholarship but a list of specific grants that will help you with your emergency needs like food and childcare. Likewise, if you can prove your poor financial state or you belong to first-generation college students, it must be mentioned as well.
- Scholarship America Dreamkeepers. It is a scholarship for financial emergency cases. It is usually up to $1,000 and is meant to pay for food, housing, and childcare.
- Aimco Cares Opportunity Scholarship. It is meant for low-income students who live in federally assisted rental housing facilities. You must pursue an undergraduate degree. Deadline: December 1, 2021.
- I'm First Scholarship. This low income financial aid award ranges from $1,000 to $4,000 and is meant for those high school seniors who will be the first in the family to attend college. If you have a financial need, your chances are even higher.
- NEED Scholarship. The sum varies between $1,000 and $3,500. It is aimed at students with financial needs who are a bit short in paying for college. You must provide the purpose of the statement letter.
- Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Support Award. It offers five $5,500 (renewable) awards to low-income families who also have minor children in their care. You must share your life story and provide your financial background.
- Ray Snader Scholarship. If one of your parents is held in custody or incarcerated, you can apply for this $2,000 award. You must share an essay where you talk about your financial need to attend college and tell about your future plans.
- The American Legion Legacy Scholarship. It is the scholarship for children of those parents who have died while on active duty as a member of the United States Armed Forces. You must purchase an undergraduate degree. Your scholarship amount will depend on your current financial state.
- The Gates Millenium Scholarship Program. It is aimed at those students who would like to study Technology, Engineering, Programming, or Online Management. If your income is low or you belong to a racial or ethnic minority, consider this $12,500 financial aid.
- Watson Brown Foundation Scholarship. If you are in Georgia or South Carolina, you can apply for an amount between $3,000 and $5,000. You must attend an accredited college or university (4 years course) and submit your financial need application letter.
- Imagine America Foundation. It provides various career-oriented scholarship options.
Do not forget to contact your college of choice to see what kind of scholarships and financial aid they may offer. In most cases, you will have a list to choose from as it will always contain something specific that meets your academic objectives or personal plans.
Additional Resources For Low-Income Students
Here are some interesting resources that will help you along to achieve success and stay safe:
- EdX's Free Online Courses For College Students by Harvard, MIT, and more. You can choose from over 2000 free online courses from 140 leading educational institutions. Earn your certificate and succeed!
- Low Income Housing. It is a unique resource that has a list of housing locations all over the country for students and families with low-income.
- StudentHousing.com This website will help you to find the right apartment. It is based on your college location and various preferences like distance to campus, privacy, room layout, and so on.
- SNAP. It was known as “food stamps” in the past. Offered by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, it lets low-income students and their families buy groceries from participating food stores.
- Homeless Shelter Directory. It has affordable housing resources, volunteering, and many other types of assistance, including emergency food resources.
- ULineline. A great online guide that contains information regarding emotional health.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It is a non-profit organization that helps to focus on your emotional challenges.
- Free Online Learning Coursera. You can consider this great selection of free courses that will help you receive additional tuition based on your subject.
Most importantly, never ever give up and remember that you can earn your college degree as you have a legal right for help. Be it food banks, academic assistance from your counselor, or a scholarship, the chances are out there. We are sincerely hoping that our low-income students guide will help you succeed! Have the best of luck!