University graduate-degree holders receiving food stamps or some other aid more than doubled between 2007 and 2010

May 9, 2012

Educational

University graduate-degree holders receiving food stamps or some other aid more than doubled between 2007 and 2010

 
 
The Chronicle of Higher Education
 
The percentage of university graduate-degree holders who receive food stamps or some other aid more than doubled between 2007 and 2010.
 
A record number of people are depending on federally financed food assistance. Food-stamp use increased from an average monthly caseload of 17 million in 2000 to 44 million people in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year, 1 in 6 people—almost 50 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population received food stamps.
 
According to a report by The Chronicle of Higher Education a growing number of Ph.D. recipients, adjunct professors, and other Americans with advanced degrees who have had to apply for food stamps or some other form of government aid since late 2007.
 
Some are struggling to pay back student loans and cover basic living expenses as they submit scores of applications for a limited pool of full-time academic positions. Others are trying to raise families or pay for their children’s college expenses on the low and fluctuating pay they receive as professors off the tenure track, a group that now makes up 70 percent of faculties. Many bounce on and off unemployment or welfare during semester breaks. And some adjuncts have found themselves trying to make ends meet by waiting tables or bagging groceries alongside their students.
 
Of the 22 million Americans with master’s degrees or higher in 2010, about 360,000 were receiving some kind of public assistance, according to the latest Current Population Survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau in March 2011. In 2010, a total of 44 million people nationally received food stamps or some other form of public aid, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 
Between 2007 and 2010 the number of people with master’s degrees who received food stamps and other aid climbed from 101,682 to 293,029, and the number of people with Ph.D.’s who received assistance rose from 9,776 to 33,655, according to tabulations of microdata done by Austin Nichols, a senior researcher with the Urban Institute. He drew on figures from the 2008 and 2011 Current Population Surveys done by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor.
Some adjuncts make less money than custodians and campus support staff who may not have college degrees. An adjunct’s salary can range from $600 to $10,000 per course, according to the Adjunct Project, a crowdsourced database about adjuncts’ salaries and working conditions. The national average earnings of adjunct instructors are just under $2,500 per course, according to the American Association of University Professors.
 
39 percent of all welfare recipients are white
37 percent are black
17 percent are Hispanic (who are either Amerindian, white, black or Asian)
3 percent are Asian
Source: Aid to Families With Dependent Children
 

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