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Student Success in College Hinges on Housing Support
Axcess Studios What Makes Us Stand Out

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs makes it clear: to do anything beyond survive, one must first have safe, secure, reliable housing over their heads. College students are no different. In order to facilitate strong academic focus, students must have affordable, safe, and secure housing. When a student worries about what they are going home to, or where that home is for the night, academics and collegiate success take a back seat.

Referring back to Maslow’s Hierarchy, shelter is the bottom of the pyramid under the umbrella of physiological needs. What this means is that in order to do anything above simply survive, it is critical to have the basic needs of a person met: food, water, and of course, shelter. The next level above that is safety/security: it is not enough to have shelter, but safe and reliable shelter. To rise through the hierarchy to the ultimate levels of esteem and self-actualization, both goals of post-secondary education, students must first know they are safe and have reliable housing.

According to “Housing Instability among College Students,” by Katharine Broton, student housing costs are the largest expenditure in most family monthly budgets: students are no different. And while K-12 correlations between housing stability and success are well-documented, it is not the same for collegiate students, especially those who attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Broton, in her article, which focuses on housing insecurity and academic attainment, she suggests that students from lower-income backgrounds face housing insecurity frequently. That same insecurity is a statistically significant predictor of academic success. “Housing insecurity is associated with an 8 to 12 percentage-point reduction in the probability of later degree attainment or enrollment,” (Broton 2021, 18).

In her article , Dr. Mariah Kornbluh and co-authors cite housing insecurity as a direct factor in students’ academic success or lack thereof. She states that, “[Housing insecurity] lacks a widely accepted definition yet encompasses several dimensions of housing challenges college students may experience including: affordability, physical safety, quality of shelter, instability, crowding, as well as loss of housing.” In their study, they found that in the fall of 2019, students who experienced three or more instances of housing insecurity had a grade point average (GPA) .30 grade points lower than their peers who did not face the same circumstances. Students who experienced homelessness experienced GPAs of .20 less than their peers who did not face those circumstances.

To best support students at HBCUs, secure housing is an obvious answer to the problem at hand. Ensuring that students have affordable, secure housing makes all the difference in making sure that those students can focus on their academics and not where they will be sleeping at night. Giving them the ability to do so allows the students, the schools, and ultimately the country to thrive.

Student Housing of America (SHA) aims to provide safe, affordable, stable student housing for those attending HBCUs. Through their programs, partnerships, and HBCU Healthy Housing (H3) Initiative, SHA’s goal is to help ensure student success via sustainable and comfortable accommodations.


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