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senate Bill S. 2143

Should More College Students Be Eligible for SNAP Benefits?

Argument in favor

Food insecurity is a growing problem on college campuses that affects one in three or more students. This problem affects students’ classroom performance, college completion rates, and future prospects in addition to undermining federal investments in education. Expanding SNAP benefits for hungry college students will help millions of college students access a stable food supply.

jimK's Opinion
···
09/06/2019
I believe that we adopt a "leave no person behind" approach in general; that all of us are created equal and have an equal right to pursue happiness; and that societal barriers that stop anyone from their pursuits need to be eliminated. This is especially true for our youth, our future. Meaningful education and enabling all of our youth to reach their full potential is an investment in our future and our country's health. So YES, I fully support food assistance when needed. All of our youth need the opportunity to achieve and not just those youth whose parents can afford a properly nutritional diet.
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Brian's Opinion
···
09/06/2019
I don't support the "conservative" lie that people don't really need food and should not be eligible. I know on our local campuses that there are students who are in need of food and have to rely on handouts from the university to feed themselves. I do think that SNAP should verify the need first, but I think if a student demonstrates need they should be eligible for this benefit. We have to stop being so cruel and "promote the general welfare" as promised.
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adangelo's Opinion
···
09/06/2019
The starving college student should not be a thing. Students should not have to worry about hunger. Many poor students barely get by and have to work even on exam week. This shouldn't be so! Let our students eat!
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Argument opposed

Data on the extent and prevalence of hunger on college campuses is spotty, with many studies suffering from low response rates, poor study design and unrepresentative data. Thus, it’s difficult to be sure if there is truly a college food insecurity problem. If college hunger isn’t truly a problem, there’s no need to expand SNAP for this population.

SneakyPete's Opinion
···
09/06/2019
👎🏻👎🏻 The Warren/Sanders Socialized Education In Action 👎🏻👎🏻 This is nothing more than another attempt by the Democrats to bribe voting age college students to vote their ticket in the coming elections. First they want to pay their tuition and now they want to feed them. Next they’ll be paying their lodging and then Subsidizing their social activities when not studying. SneakyPete. 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻. 9.6.19.....
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JTJ's Opinion
···
09/06/2019
Once dems sucker us into their socialist programs, then they push to expand them beyond their original purpose. Abolish SNAP entirely, not the federal governments job. States should deal with their needy populations.
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Timothy's Opinion
···
09/06/2019
Stop thinking that the government should feed people. We don’t want them in control of our daily survival needs. I don’t oppose food stamps for families with children who are down on their luck, but isn’t a big part of being a student learning how to survive and make it on your own? We’re turning out generations of helpless, dependent, entitled young people who think the world owes them a living. It doesn’t. This is NOT the American way!
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
    IntroducedJuly 17th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 2143?

This bill — the College Student Hunger Act of 2019 — would address college student hunger by increasing low-income students’ ability to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), testing new ways SNAP can be administered on college campuses and increasing awareness about student eligibility for SNAP.

Specifically, this bill would: 

  • Increase low-income college students' ability to receive SNAP: This bill would expand the list of criteria that permit low-income college students to apply for SNAP by allowing Pell Grant-eligible students, independent students (e.g., those who are in foster care, are veterans, or are homeless), and students with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 to apply for benefits. The bill would also lower SNAP's 20 hours per-week work requirement to 10 hours per week for college students.
  • Increases outreach to eligible students: This bill would require the Dept. of Education to notify low-income students who are eligible for a Pell Grant that they may be eligible for SNAP and to refer them to states' SNAP application websites.
  • Creates a SNAP student hunger pilot program: This bill would require the Depts. of Agriculture and Education to run demonstration pilot projects to test ways to make SNAP more useful to college students, such as allowing them to use SNAP to purchase prepared food from dining halls or allowing students to apply the cash value of their benefit to directly offset the cost of a student meal plan.
  • Increases awareness of student eligibility for SNAP: This bill would implement the recommendations of a January 2019 GAO report on food insecurity at college campuses. It would require the Dept. of Agriculture to increase awareness among states and colleges about student hunger, student eligibility for SNAP, and how states and colleges can help eligible students access and use their SNAP benefits. It would also require the Dept. of Agriculture's Inspector General to audit the agency's outreach practices for making colleges and universities more aware of student eligibility for SNAP.
  • Amend a current rule prohibiting students residing on campus who participate in campus meal plans from accessing SNAP: This bill would make students who are enrolled in college meal plans eligible for SNAP benefits when meal services aren’t in operation during the winter and summer months or when students are off campus.

Impact

Students at U.S. four- and two-year colleges and universities; college and university students experiencing food insecurity; food insecurity on U.S. college and university campuses; SNAP; SNAP eligibility requirements for students at U.S. four- and two-year colleges and universities; and dissemination of information about SNAP benefits.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2143

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced this bill to address food insecurity on college campuses by allowing more low-income college students to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and pushing the federal government, states, and colleges and universities to take a more proactive role in addressing student food insecurity:

"As more and more students struggle to afford college and take on a mountain of student loan debt, nearly one-in-three college students cannot even afford basic necessities like food. Our bill will ensure students have the support they need to work toward a better future without going hungry."

Rep. Al Lawson (D-AL), who is sponsoring this bill’s House companion, says

“Food insecurity is a real concern for many college students across our nation. The significant increase in college tuition over the last decade has forced students to make a choice between buying food or paying for books and housing expenditures. This bill will help to relieve some of that financial burden for them. I am proud to work with Sen. Warren to introduce this critical piece of legislation.” 

The American Council on Education (ACE) supports this bill. In a letter to Sen. Warren and Rep. Lawson, ACE President Ted Mitchell wrote: 

“On behalf of the higher education associations listed below, I write in strong support of S. 2143/H.R. 3809, the College Student Hunger Act of 2019. We thank you for introducing this important legislation, which will provide needed tools and resources aimed at ensuring that students will not go hungry as they pursue higher education. There has been a growing awareness in recent years about the serious problem of hunger and food insecurity on campus. Colleges and universities have engaged in a number of efforts to try and address this issue… The problem of food insecurity is a real one–and one that takes a serious toll on the health, emotional, and educational well-being of affected students every day… The College Student Hunger Act would remove barriers that prevent low-income students from accessing SNAP benefits.”

While the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified SNAP as a way to address college student hunger in a December 2018 report, it didn’t recommend expanding SNAP benefits at the federal level. Instead, the GAO report made two recommendations focused on optimizing the existing SNAP program’s operation and information-sharing: 

  1. That the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Administrator should make information on SNAP eligibility requirements easier to understand and access on the FNS website in order to serve as a resource for colleges and state SNAP agencies; and
  2. That the FNS Administrator should coordinate with regional offices to collect and review information about existing SNAP flexibilities and examples of approaches state SNAP agencies are taking to assist eligible college students with accessing SNAP benefits, and then share that information with state SNAP agencies.

Conservative critics of research on campus food insecurity, who oppose interventions to assist college students with their nutritional needs, argue that there isn’t enough data to properly describe the problem. They argue that the lack of a definitive, nationally-representative sample invalidates current work in the field, that survey response rates are too low, that definitions of “insecurity” vary too much from study to study and that the studies aren’t optimally designed. For more on this, see the Of Note section of this summary — multiple conservative critics have targeted one report on student food insecurity, the #RealCollege survey, in particular.

This legislation has two Democratic Senate cosponsors. Its House version, sponsored by Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL), has 24 Democratic House cosponsors. Both bills have yet to receive a committee vote.


Of NoteIn February 2017, Sen. Warren led a letter with Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on food insecurity at colleges and universities

In its resulting report, released in December 2018, the GAO reports that over 30% of college students may face food insecurity. Similarly, in a 2017 study of 43,000 students, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab found that 36% of university students and 42% of community college students were affected by food insecurity.

In the fall 2018 #RealCollege survey by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, the results of which were published in April 2019, researchers surveyed students at 123 two- and four-year institutions (90 two-year colleges and 33 four-year colleges from 24 states) across the United States. They found that basic needs insecurity rates were higher for certain groups of students:

  • Two-year college students;
  • Marginalized students, including African-Americans, LGBTQ students, and students who are financially independent from their parents or guardians;
  • Students who have served in the military;
  • Former foster youth; and
  • Students who were formerly convicted of a crime.

Of the nearly 86,000 college student respondents in the Hope Center survey, approximately 48% of students in two-year institutions had experienced food insecurity in the 30 days preceding the survey and approximately 41% of students in four-year institutions had experienced food insecurity over the same period. Additionally, more than half of respondents from two-year institutions and 44% of students from four-year institutions worried about running out of food. Across the board, nearly half of students couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals.

Robert Verbruggen, deputy managing editor of the National Review, criticized the #RealCollege survey after the New York Times produced what he called an “uncritical write-up.” He argued that the survey was flawed in multiple ways:  

“The first important thing to know is that, as the survey itself notes, only in its ‘extreme’ variations is ‘food insecurity’ often accompanied by ‘physiological sensations of hunger.’ For instance, a student could be classified as ‘food insecure’ if he said he worried whether his food would run out, ‘couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals,’ and ate a bit less ‘because there wasn’t enough money for food.’... Next: This survey had a very low response rate [of 5.8%], meaning that the people who answered it are almost certainly not representative of the general population.”

Verbruggen also argued that the email ad for the survey, which participating institutions were required to use word-for-word, carried “a significant risk of skewing the sample toward poorer, struggling students” due to its language. Citing an April 2016 academic paper which found that current studies of food insecurity on college campuses use “not ideal” methodologies, Verbruggen also argued that research yielding the lowest estimates of food insecurity (such as a 2017 Urban Institute report finding food insecurity levels of 11.2-13.5% among college students in 2015), are the most credible.

In a USA TODAY op-ed, James Bovard, author of Attention Deficit Democracy, also criticized the #RealCollege survey and argued that obesity — not starvation — is the real issue on college campuses

“Rather than being perpetually famished, 70% of college students gain weight during their undergrad years. And few students are svelte when they arrived on campus: High school students were 30 times more likely to be overweight than underweight, according to a study published in Obesity Research. It was only seven years ago that USA TODAY heralded a new campaign: ‘Fighting the obesity epidemic on college campuses.’..  [A]national goal of “no college kid hungry” would bloat more students at a time when obesity wreaks more havoc than a few missed meals.”

Bovard also argued that college students’ course and work loads can accommodate working to earn money for food on their own and criticized the idea of federal assistance as a substitute for working for grocery money: 

“The Post noted in 2012 that ‘the typical student today spends 27 hours a week in study and class time, roughly the same time commitment expected of students in a modern full-day kindergarten.’ But expecting students to use free time to get a job to feed themselves is beyond the pale. Instead, the only viable solution is a new federal assistance program. A Post article on the Temple/HOPE study noted that ‘advocates have called on the federal government to provide free or reduced-cost meals at colleges, as is already done in primary and secondary schools.’ So politicians should treat adults like helpless children, no matter how old they become or how much aid they already receive?... In the long run, obliterating individuals’ responsibility for feeding themselves is the worst possible dietary outcome.”

The Hope Center report found that while campus food pantries are becoming more commonplace, use of other supports, such as SNAP, to promote food insecurity are underutilized. In its report, it cited a GAO finding that 57% of students at risk of food insecurity and eligible for SNAP didn’t collect those benefits.

SNAP — the main federal food program addressing food insecurity for low-income Americans — could cover up to two million at-risk students who are potentially eligible for it but who didn’t receive benefits in 2016. Additionally, current restrictions on SNAP eligibility (for example, college students who are enrolled part-time or more currently can’t receive SNAP benefits) make many college students ineligible for benefits.

In an effort to address students’ food insecurity, more than 656 colleges and universities have or are in the process of developing on-campus food pantries. However, Sara Goldrick-Rab, founder of the Hope Center, says that these pantries only scratch the surface of the college hunger issue. She says, “When there’s a food pantry, there’s somebody who is acknowledge the problem” but more systemic responses to college student hunger are still needed. Abby J. Leibman, president and CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, concurs and argues SNAP expansion is the single best solution to college student hunger

“While hundreds of food pantries have sprung up on campuses in recent years to provide temporary assistance to hungry students, federal food benefits, particularly SNAP, remain the most effective and efficient response to hunger among college students.”

In recent years, efforts to address food insecurity at colleges and universities have expanded beyond food banks to include redistributing leftover food from dining halls and catered events, making students eligible for food stamps and other benefits, and changing national and state education funding to cover living expenses, not just tuition. Goldrick-Rab told the New York Times that this reflects the national hunger movement’s move beyond food banks to focusing on prevention.

Goldrick-Rab explained why cutting SNAP’s work hours requirement from 20 to 10 hours a week is significant for college students. She noted that currently, the work requirement can often cause students to drop out of college because they struggle to balance work with classes and homework

“Students are not saying we are unwilling to work, they’re already working. It’s about finding enough work to get 20 hours a week, and make your class schedule work. I’m seeing people trying to do two jobs and that comes with two employers, plus commuting times and it tends to drive people out of college.”

Due to this dynamic, Goldrick-Rab argues that “[f]ood insecurity is a college-completion issue.” She adds that it undermines the federal investment in financial aid.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Vladimir Vladimirov)

AKA

College Student Hunger Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to expand the eligibility of students to participate in the supplemental nutrition assistance program, and for other purposes.

    I believe that we adopt a "leave no person behind" approach in general; that all of us are created equal and have an equal right to pursue happiness; and that societal barriers that stop anyone from their pursuits need to be eliminated. This is especially true for our youth, our future. Meaningful education and enabling all of our youth to reach their full potential is an investment in our future and our country's health. So YES, I fully support food assistance when needed. All of our youth need the opportunity to achieve and not just those youth whose parents can afford a properly nutritional diet.
    Like (100)
    Follow
    Share
    👎🏻👎🏻 The Warren/Sanders Socialized Education In Action 👎🏻👎🏻 This is nothing more than another attempt by the Democrats to bribe voting age college students to vote their ticket in the coming elections. First they want to pay their tuition and now they want to feed them. Next they’ll be paying their lodging and then Subsidizing their social activities when not studying. SneakyPete. 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻. 9.6.19.....
    Like (40)
    Follow
    Share
    I don't support the "conservative" lie that people don't really need food and should not be eligible. I know on our local campuses that there are students who are in need of food and have to rely on handouts from the university to feed themselves. I do think that SNAP should verify the need first, but I think if a student demonstrates need they should be eligible for this benefit. We have to stop being so cruel and "promote the general welfare" as promised.
    Like (50)
    Follow
    Share
    The starving college student should not be a thing. Students should not have to worry about hunger. Many poor students barely get by and have to work even on exam week. This shouldn't be so! Let our students eat!
    Like (35)
    Follow
    Share
    Dropping the work requirement to 10 hours per week makes sense. If students are eligible and hungry they should receive SNAP benefits.
    Like (25)
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    Poverty should not be a deterrent to a good education!! Hunger should not be found in any corner of America! That hunger continues to be a factor in an ever increasing number together with homelessness should be alarming to the richest country on earth!! WHat good is having a job if it does not provide a living wage!! There are people living out of their cars in America who also work to feed themselves and their children!! Let’s provide for a minimum wage that people can can live on so that snap is not necessary for working age Americans!!
    Like (23)
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    Once dems sucker us into their socialist programs, then they push to expand them beyond their original purpose. Abolish SNAP entirely, not the federal governments job. States should deal with their needy populations.
    Like (21)
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    Y’all, people need to eat. How hard is this to understand?
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    Missionaries decades ago had to learn to feed people's bodies before attempting to feed their souls, and that reality still exists today. I worked with homeless people for twelve years, and I never expected anyone to ask for job counseling or financial counseling or substance abuse counseling while he was hungry.
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    Stop thinking that the government should feed people. We don’t want them in control of our daily survival needs. I don’t oppose food stamps for families with children who are down on their luck, but isn’t a big part of being a student learning how to survive and make it on your own? We’re turning out generations of helpless, dependent, entitled young people who think the world owes them a living. It doesn’t. This is NOT the American way!
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    I received food stamps when I was in college in the seventies. Students still need the added help today!
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    An ever growing list of trumps accomplishments and of those in congress who support him: Most recent: Took money from military daycares to pay for a wall that won’t work and no one wants. The Vice President and the Attorney General are both spending tax payer dollars on trump hotels, lining his pockets and currying his favor. Privately instructed aides to skirt laws and regulations to get the wall built faster — and told them he will pardon them if necessary. Pressuring a government agency to give a contract for his wall to a company whose chief executive is a donor to one of his top GOP allies in Congress. Took hundreds of millions from 127 different projects (FEMA being one of those) for his wall. Spending our tax dollars at his golf courses. Thinks nuking a hurricane is an idea. Pushing to host the next G-7 at one of his own resorts. Taunted Iran by tweeting a classified image of an Iranian rocket that had exploded, thereby potentially compromising U.S. intelligence capabilities. His own company would save millions from the low interest rates he is demanding. Was going to give you tax cuts through your paychecks but decided not to. Destroying the economy with HIS trade war. We will soon average a 1.2 trillion deficit. He is repeating NRA talking points on background checks so expect no action taken regardless of the fact there has been 27 arrested over threats to commit mass attacks since El Paso( NOT TOLEDO). Made fun of republicans being afraid of the NRA and then caved after a 30 minute phone conversation with them. Bragged about indefinite child detention because it brings families together. Refusing flue shots, that protect us all(google influenza pandemic), to immigrant children. Attacking fellow congresswomen in really disgusting ways and making anti-Semitic remarks about Jews calling them disloyal. Thinks he’s the chosen one based on a conspiracy theory web sight. Impeachment: Obstruction of Justice. Profiting from the Presidency. Collusion - They had a meeting & lied about it. Advocating political & police violence. Abuse of power. Engaging in reckless behavior. Persecuting political opponents. Attacking the free press. Violating immigrants Right to Due Process. Violating campaign finance laws. Racist: Speaks directly to and often tweeting straight from white supremacists. Calls them very fine people. Told fellow congresswomen to go back where they came from. Called them shit hole countries. Called them murderers and rapists. Calls her Pocahontas. Took out full page adds calling for the death of five innocent black kids in New York, 1989. Literally has said in an interview he has Hitlers speeches, My New Order in his nightstand. Our Money: Spent campaign finance money on hush payments to silence a porn star he had an affair with in order to hide it from the voters. Has spent over $100 million of our tax dollars playing golf at his own golf courses. Has never divested from companies and advertises and profits off the White House. Was going to cut Medicaid and Medicare funding to pay for the tax cuts he gave to the rich. Is actively destroying farmers lives with his trade wars that we all know only hurts our pockets not Chinas. Has made the lives of every truck driver across America as well as our own, more dangerous by removing safety regulations that only benefits the pockets of the CEOs of those companies. Has removed any and all protections we had in place from work safety, environment, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and gives that power back to the CEOs, oil companies, men and old white men. Saudi funded lobbyist rented 500 rooms at a trump hotel he never divested from right after he became president. Wonder why? Sexual Predator: Accused by more than 20 women of molestation and rape. Bragged about said molestation on tape. Has cheated on all three wives (see above). Has made sexual remarks on camera about his daughter. Belittles and bully’s strong women. Not even sure he’s aware he has two daughters. Idiot: Has allowed North Korea to grow there nuclear weapons program. Took the side of Putin over America’s own security agencies on the national stage. Lacks the intelligence and facts needed to communicate on a global level much less national one. Makes policy decisions based on FOX media. Lies when speaks. Doesn’t believe in science and quite often displays his ignorance of it. Russia: Lied about meetings with Russians. Lied about a trump tower Moscow. Personal attorney Michael Cohen (same guy who broke campaign finance laws under trumps direction) had contacts with russian officials. National Security aide Flynn resigned over Russian contacts. Jeff Sessions recused himself because of Russian contacts. Manafort resigned because of Russian contacts. Campaign foreign policy adviser Papadopoulos met with Russians then bragged about it to Australians who then turned that info over to our FBI. Sixteen campaign officials had contacts with Russia and at least nine others new about it. Russian mobster lived in trump tower. trump casino was flagged 106 times for lax money laundering standards and same Russian frequently stayed at trump casino. Has been selling real estate to Russians for years. It really is surprising how many connections to Russians this man has. Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Bill Posey You are my representatives. OLC policy: The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. It’s time to do your job. You swore an oath to this country, it’s people and me to uphold the constitution. The president has never upheld that oath. How do you want to be remembered?
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    As a college student myself there has been times where I had to go without groceries and food for a week because I had to choose between rent of groceries and didn’t have the option of going home. I think “Food Stamps” should be offered to college students. Especially if they qualify for FAFSA.
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    Students have money for school, but not for groceries, and this is the TAXPAYERS' problem? No.
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    Student's brains require more than Raman noodles and the occasional pizza.
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    Yes. You can’t focus and learn when you’re hungry.
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    Well fed people do better so yes.
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    I was there—it was no fun. SNAP could help.
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    I am a 4 yr college faculty. My students must complete clinical hours and one day a student sitting close to me said they felt like they were going to faint! I moved close to them and had another student sit on the other side so they would not fall into the floor. I sent for OJ and crackers and stayed with the student until they felt better. I learned that they didn’t have any food in their on campus apartment and was waiting for their parents to send them $$$. From that day on I began to carry healthy energy bars and yogurt. I told each student that I would have it and I put it in a basket for anyone to help themselves to. I began to pay attention to some of their conversations to each other and learned first hand that food insecurity among college students is REAL and it is a bigger issue than many might imagine! Indeed there should be resources to support these young kids as they cannot stay attentive if they are hungry! It is a priority for me to help and I am glad that I learned first hand they need help! Pass the bill right away to support struggling college students!
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    I was a first generation student. I got through college, but many of my peers from Oswego County couldn’t, namely because even with loans and grants, we still had to work to keep a roof over our heads and food on our tables. That was in a public university setting. I don’t blame our middle class peers with parental support, but we lived in different worlds. If you don’t have to worry about food and housing, you can focus on specialization. Successful workforce specialization is what fuels a capitalist economy. Provide support for students today, eliminate as many concerns outside of excelling in a field, and your tax revenue will thank you for it in 20 years. It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s part of building a positive future. This is a no brainer.
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