If he's not in class, Christopher Sparks can usually be found in a computer from the library at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. That's because he doesn't have a home where he can peacefully study.
As The Star Tribune reports, Sparks is facing a growing challenge for college students: homelessness.
Sparks, who is majoring in computer support and network administration, told theStar Tribune:
"I hate it, but I have to survive," he said. "I wouldn't wish this situation on my worst enemy."
Statistics and assistance aimed specifically at homeless college students are scarce. Students, afraid of being stigmatized for their situation, often keep their housing situation a secret.
This stigma is only one of the many hardships homeless students have to face, according to this NPR report.
Barbara Duffield, policy director of the Washington, DC-based National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, told the Star Tribune:
"In 2009, 47,204 college students applying for financial aid checked a box that identified themselves as homeless."
However, because of the survey's phrasing, Duffield believes the number to be larger. Since homeless college students don't have an appropriate studying and resting environment and lack basic school supplies, approximately 50 percent of the homeless population report dropping out of school during the course of their education, according to the National Law Center On Homelessness and Poverty.