Maui News

UH Student Survey: 58% Hit with Hunger, Housing Problems

June 22, 2021, 8:40 AM HST
* Updated June 22, 9:11 AM
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More than half of University of Hawaiʻi students surveyed last year experienced some type of basic needs insecurity, according to a recent study.

Mikyla Hi‘ilani Thomas, a student at UH West O‘ahu was among the 1,000-plus students who participated in the survey.

“Not really knowing what dinner was going to be like. Not really knowing how I was going to afford my next meal, how I was going to afford gas to get to class,” said Thomas. “We are all one job away from not being able to afford groceries. It’s all around us. It’s within every community.”

UH’s findings are consistent with prior national studies of student basic needs insecurity conducted within the last five years.

Aside from food and housing, other basic needs explored in the survey included clothing, childcare, mental health, financial resources and transportation.


The survey found that:

  • 58% of respondents experienced at least one form of basic needs insecurity
  • 39% experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days
  • 44% experienced housing insecurity in the previous year
  • 14% experienced homelessness in the previous year

 Invitations to complete a questionnaire were sent by email to 48,133 students from the UH System and 1,016 students participated, for an estimated response rate of 2.1%. 

The UH Basic Needs Committee partnered with the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice to conduct the comprehensive basic needs assessment of the UH student body.

The study sought to combat basic student needs insecurity and to develop a Basic Needs Master Plan. “Student hunger alone can affect mental health, academic performance and graduation rates,” according to organizers of the study.


The full report on the UH System and reports for nine UH campuses are available on the UH Student Basic Needs website

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