After a ten-year hiatus, the California Student Aid Commission (the Commission)—the state’s administrator of student financial aid programs and services—reinstated its Student Expenses and Resources Survey (SEARS)  which found that the greatest obstacles to success in college are the costs of attending and achieving a school-work balance.  The brief found that many students in rural areas of the state are experiencing housing insecurity – emphasizing the need to address shortfalls in our state’s financial aid system that leaves too many students – especially those in rural areas—struggling to stay afloat.  

The SEARS data examines responses from students by segments, race and ethnicity and various regions of the state finding:

  • Student housing insecurity is the greatest in the Central Valley and Greater Sacramento regions, while food insecurity soars in the Northern Inland counties;
  • A combined 64 percent of students believe their success is obstructed by college costs and the struggle of balancing school and work;
  • 33 percent of students said their biggest obstacle to success in college is the cost of college;
  • 31 percent of students said their biggest obstacle is balancing school and work responsibilities.

California’s institutions of higher education—from the University of Merced to the College of the Redwoods—prepare rural Californians with the skills and knowledge to contribute to and benefit from the economy.

It is for this reason, the Commission is on a mission to better understand the needs of the students of today.  CSAC recently released the first of several in-depth analyses spotlighting housing, which was one of the biggest obstacles students identified to their success in college. Specifically, housing insecurity was reported the highest in the Central Valley and Greater Sacramento regions.

The Commission is committed to continuing to look closely at the SEARS data and the steps we must take as a state to ensure ALL Californian students are set up for success.

To learn more about the SEARS findings and the California Student Aid Commission, please contact Patrick Perry with any questions at