“Updating “Normal:” Who Are Illinois’ College Students Today and What Support Do They Need to Succeed?” was conducted pre-Covid and offers ways policymakers, government officials, and campus leaders can address the needs of students. The main findings of the report include:
- The economic implications of COVID-19 and how it affects students ability to enroll and stay in school: The available support for students have been inadequate even before the pandemic, but now not only are those problems worse, there are emerging challenges unique to low-income, first-generation students of color. Factors like money, jobs, family responsibility, access to technology and health concerns are now also added to the challenges of balancing work, studies, etc.
- Realistic view of Illinois students: In the most recent available data, the average annual unmet financial need for an Illinois undergraduate student was $10,952. At the Chicago minimum wage of $14 per hour, a student would have to work 782 hours annually (about 16 hours per week) to make up for this shortfall. At the Illinois statewide minimum wage of $8.25 per hour, a student would have to work 1,328 hours annually (about 27 hours per week).
- Roadmap of support: Expand basic needs services for Illinois students, improve outreach, marketing, and awareness of existing services, improve financial access for students from low-income families, improve information-gathering about today’s students and their needs.