SACRAMENTO -- The state Senate Select Committee on Student Success took a tour of the ASI Food Pantry, Student Health and Housing office and CARES office on the Sacramento State campus Monday with the aim of helping distressed students graduate on time.
The school has a four-year graduation rate of just 15% but that’s twice what it was just a couple of years ago.
The campus has a large number of students who have to work their way through school while juggling jobs and families at the same time.
The committee heard from students who have had to work through homelessness and hunger while continuing their studies.
Among those testifying was Sidrah Mukhtar, who will soon graduate with a degree in criminal justice. She left an abusive home and during her junior year found herself homeless and penniless -- and she wasn’t alone.
"You see it everywhere around you that people are very stressed," Mukhtar said. "You can’t function, you can’t go home and write a 10-page paper if you don’t have food in your stomach."
Sacramento State saw the need for student support beyond the classroom several years ago.
It now provides same-day counseling for mental health and financial issues. It also has on-campus beds for students who find themselves homeless and a food pantry to aid students who struggle with finding food.
Htar credited those programs with helping her graduate.
Members of the committee say emergency grants and financial schemes to help students with non-tuition related costs, like housing, food, books and other student supplies, need to be looked at. Committee Chairman Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, said helping students graduate on time will reduce student loan debt and make space available for more incoming students.
Sacramento State also says it has increased the number of faculty and classes available to students, which has helped graduation rates. It expects graduation rates to go from 15% to 21% in the next few years.