Author: Rebecca Hersher

Debt, missed classes and anxiety: how climate-driven disasters hurt college students

Source(s): NPR


Students whose families live in zip codes where there was a severe weather disaster get worse grades than their peers, are more likely to withdraw from difficult courses and ultimately are more likely to default on their student loans after they graduate, according to a recent study that examined college students all over the country.


Despite their vulnerability, college students often fall through the cracks when it comes to disaster assistance. Typically, such aid provides people with money for shelter and other basic needs. But it doesn't offer tuition support. There's also no assistance with transportation to and from classes if students are displaced by the disaster, and must commute long distances to get to campus.


The school did a few things to help students immediately. First, using a private grant, they deposited money directly into the accounts of affected students. They didn't make them fill out a lengthy application or jump through hoops to prove that they needed assistance. "What we discovered was they really needed that money, and not only to support themselves, but for their extended families," he says. "To find someplace to live, to get something to eat, and so forth."

They also kept the campus open longer hours, as a safe space for students who had been displaced. And they adjusted curricula so that students could help with the fire recovery and still build credits toward graduation – for example, by preparing meals for their displaced neighbors, through the culinary program.


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