Michigan Community College Students Struggle With Poverty, Food Insecurity

By Doug Cunningham

As Michigan’s community colleges struggle to educate students, the poverty that students face is a a huge additional burden. At Southwestern Michigan College, for example, many students need help with getting enough to eat. Dr. David Matthews is President of the college.

“We have a food bank for our students because community college students nationally – many of them – are food insecure. And so we have to deal with that. We have to deal with the other pressures. The opportunity cost of not working and providing for their families that makes it difficult for them to go to school.”

In fact, Dr. Matthews says, a majority of students at Southwestern Michigan college are really struggling financially.

“Two-thirds of the students that we serve are financially needy. We provide a low-cost way for people to do the first two years of a four year degree. We also provide vocational and technical training. All the things that the state really rally wants for its residents.”

And as community colleges serve a financially needy student population, Dr. Matthews says community college state aid is about the same now as it was in 2001.