Food and Housing Survey


Food and Housing Survey

Food and Housing Survey banner

In May 2023, the California Student Aid Commission (Commission) administered our inaugural Food and Housing Survey, as a supplement to the triannual Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS). This survey asked students about their experiences paying for food and housing during the 2022-23 academic year.

The Commission conducts periodic surveys of California students to help inform education leaders, policymakers, and the public about the challenges and issues that students encounter. While segments of higher education survey their respective students, the Commission is uniquely positioned to survey students across all segments of higher education to provide a holistic understanding of how California college students are meeting – or not meeting – their basic needs. In 2019, the Commission released data from our Student Expenses and Resources Survey that 36% of students applying for financial aid were housing insecure and 39% were food insecure. Along with the stories from students themselves, this startling data has helped inform discussions on how California can better meet the needs of students and address their growing costs outside tuition.

Food  and Housing Survey Graph

The Food and Housing Survey and the 2018-19 SEARS both used
question modules from the USDA and US Census to determine basic
needs insecurity. The time scale for the food and housing questions
in these basic needs survey was 12 months instead of 30 days.

Given the breadth of these challenges faced by students, the Commission administered a focused Food and Housing Survey in May 2023. The results of this year’s survey demonstrate that the basic needs challenges that our students face are persistent and intensifying across all segments of higher education. In this survey, we found that two-thirds (66%) of students were identified as food insecure while over half (53%) were housing insecure. These and other findings tell a story of higher education dreams becoming even harder to realize, especially for students who face disproportionate barriers to reaching those dreams. 

To read the full report, click here: Food and Housing Survey: Understanding Students’ Basic Needs

Additional supporting documents for the 2023 Food and Housing Survey are available here: