By Angela Greenwood

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The number of homeless students at Sacramento State is growing fast, and the housing crisis is to blame.

University officials say rising rents are forcing more students out of their homes.

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Student homelessness isn’t a new problem, but what’s happening at Sac State currently is a dire situation, according to officials, as thousands who can barely make ends meet as it is now can’t find affordable housing.

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It’s hard to tell them apart from the rest of the students attending college every day, eager to learn and to earn a degree. But thousands of the striving scholars at Sac State don’t even have a place to live.

“Can you imagine how hard it is to study and get homework done and pass tests when you don’t have a home?” asked Beth Lesen, Sac State Associate V.P. of Student Affairs.

An estimated 3,600 homeless students are attending Sac State. The numbers are based on national and CSU averages.

“It means that 3,600 students are experiencing homelessness at one point or another,” said Lesen.

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Sac State student Clinton Spellman knew one of those struggling students personally, a friend he helped for three months during a rough time when she didn’t have a place to live.

“We pretty much helped her with food and stuff and shelter,” said Spellman.

University officials say as rents continue to rise in Sacramento, student homelessness is also skyrocketing.

“The housing affordability crisis has definitely contributed to an increase,” said Lesen.

Sac State is offering some relief, providing up to four students emergency housing for 30 days, as well as one-time emergency grants to help students earn those degrees and move closer to future financial stability.

Lesen said, “They know that the university, that college is their way out of financial crisis, so they’re devoted. They’re here, and they’re not going anywhere, and they’ll make any sacrifice they need to make to stay in school.”

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So, how can you help? Lessen says the biggest key is for folks to offer rooms for rent or homes for rent to students for reasonable prices, so they can actually afford them.