Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level



Sociology and Criminology


Kevin M. Fitzpatrick

Committee Member

Don Willis

Second Committee Member

Shuana Morimoto


college, food insecurity, higher education, housing insecurity, income disparity, inequality, optimism


Within the last decade, research has identified wide-ranging disparities in access to basic needs among university students. These differences, such as a lack of adequate food and housing during university, provide a negative environmental experience with potential to limit one’s optimism or hope for the future. This research explores how basic needs insecurity and social vulnerabilities among college students are related to subjective assessments of their prospects for the future. The present study utilizes survey data from a random sample of college students (n=300) enrolled at an urban university in the Midwest region of the United States of America. Logistic regression examines the multivariate relationships among social vulnerabilities, insecurities, educational achievement, and their role in determining the odds of being optimistic vs. non-optimistic. The analysis finds that among this sample of students, unmet basic needs are related to higher chances of being non-optimistic for the future. The findings underscore the importance of personal stability in food and shelter reflecting not only current physical and mental capabilities but also projections of one’s future.