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Hungry, Homeless and in College

THREE months after starting college, Brooke Evans found herself without a place to live. She was 19.

She slept in libraries, bathrooms and her car. She sold plasma and skipped meals. It was hard to focus or participate in class, and when her grades fell, her financial aid did, too. Eventually, she left college and began sleeping on the street, in debt, without a degree.

As researchers who study why students don’t finish college, we happen to have first met people like Ms. Evans in universities and community colleges in Wisconsin. But just how common was it across the country for college students to struggle to come up with enough money for food or shelter?