How Does Poverty Impact Students in Higher Education?


Living in poverty can have a huge impact on how one pursues higher education.

Higher education is plagued by soaring costs and shrinking financial aid, making accessibility for those living through poverty increasingly difficult. Students from low-income backgrounds have to work incredibly hard to even make it into college, but beyond that, it becomes even more difficult for them to stay and do well. The fact that poverty has such a large impact on students may lead some to believe that those in poverty just aren’t capable of doing as well in higher education, but let’s take a look at how and why being poor has such a massive impact on students in higher education.

Managing Time

It’s not atypical for these students to have to work multiple jobs. With the constantly rising cost of tuition, some may feel pressured to pay that all off immediately and not accrue debt. To do that, students budget their time between multiple jobs which takes away from the time they can spend studying and preparing to do well academically. Likewise, some students end up only going to college part time simply because of money, which can set them back quite a bit.


The reality is that some college students are homeless or facing hunger. These students have to choose between eating a meal and attending class sometimes, which can have hugely negative impacts on a student’s success. Some of these college attendees also rely on public transit to get to classes–which can sometimes be difficult to afford or is unreliable.

Lack of Structure

Many students living through poverty are also the first in their families to attend college. This makes it an uneven playing field as they simply don’t have access to family members who can provide them with the same level of support. These students may lack guidance at home, have infrequent access to food and water, or even struggle to access campus advisement.

Talk to My Brother’s Keeper About Helping in Baltimore

To learn more about our youth programs, Attendance Affirmation Project, how to help, or to find out more about our services including hot meal programs, employment assistance, health services and identifying possible emergency shelter, call MBK today at 410-644-3194. You can also follow our official MBK page on Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, to stay up to date on our center’s progress and upcoming events in the community.

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