Addressing the Needs of Homeless Youths in Higher Education. Diana Bowman Director National Center for Homeless Education

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1 Addressing the Needs of Homeless Youths in Higher Education Diana Bowman Director National Center for Homeless Education

2 Do you know a student who: Is living doubled up because she was kicked out of her parents home Would be on the street if she couldn t stay with a friend or relative? Is couch surfing? Is living in a car? Has no place to go on holidays when the dorms close? Is living in a place without heat or plumbing? Has no contact or support from his parents? 2

3 What educational challenges do unaccompanied homeless youth face? Lack of financial means to live independently and safely Difficulty paying for AP exams, college entrance exams, college applications, housing deposits Difficulty being financially self-sufficient once enrolled in college Limited housing options, especially in small towns or rural areas Struggling to balance school and other responsibilities Lack of access to parental income information and support Lack of knowledge of available support systems Lack of caring adult guidance 3

4 Why are unaccompanied youth on their own? Long-standing patterns of family conflict: blended family issues, pregnancy, sexual activity or orientation, school problems, alcohol/drug use Abuse or neglect within the home Parental incarceration, substance abuse, illness, hospitalization, deportation, death Running away from foster care Aging out of the foster care system Policies preventing older boys to stay in shelters with their families 4

5 What support exists for homeless students? McKinney-Vento Act supports students K-12 in public education and links them to services School stability Immediate enrollment Support for academic achievement Local Homeless Liaison in every school district Recent awareness of homeless students on campuses has resulted in many similar supports 5

6 College Cost Reduction and Access Act Independent student status on the FAFSA for unaccompanied homeless youths and self supporting youths at risk of homelessness Can apply for aid without parental signature or consideration of parental income 6

7 Independent student status must be determined by: Local Homeless Liaison in a school district (graduating senior identified as homeless) Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) funded shelter director or designee (student must have received services) U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funded shelter director or designee (student must have received services) College Financial Aid Administrator 7

8 Independent Student Status CCRAA uses the MV definition of homeless Children or youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, including: Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason ( doubling up ) Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to the lack of adequate alternative accommodations Living in emergency or transitional shelters 8

9 MV Definition cont. Awaiting foster care placement (less applicable for higher ed. due to the CCRAA s provision on kids in foster care at age 13 or older) Living in a public or private place not designed for humans to live Living in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or a similar setting Migratory children or unaccompanied youth living in the above settings 9

10 More on Independent Student Status At risk of homelessness: when a student s housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate Includes a homeless student fleeing an abusive parent, even if the parent would provide housing and support 10

11 Application and Verification Guide Youth = 21 or younger or still enrolled in high school on the day he/she signs the FAFSA; youth identified as homeless gets independent student status Ages = need a dependency override for independent student status Age 24 or older is automatic independent status 11

12 Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and the FAFSA Do not need to provide information on parental income and assets Do not need a parental signature Do provide information on their own income and assets EFC calculated proportional to what the student can provide based on his/her resources 12

13 Role of the FAA According to the AVG If a student does not have, and cannot get a determination of homelessness from a local liaison, RHYA provider, or HUD provider, a FAA must make a determination of unaccompanied homeless youth status If a student meets the definition of UHY, this is not an exercise of professional judgment or a dependency override ; this is determining the independent student status of an unaccompanied youth 13

14 Role of the FAA According to the AVG In instances where a student doesn t meet the definition of UHY but there are other extenuating circumstances, a dependency override or exercise of professional judgment may be appropriate 14

15 FAA Determination of Student Status Verification of yes answers on the FAFSA is not required unless there is conflicting information Permits a FAA to determine a student s status with a documented interview 15

16 Tips for Determining Independent Student Status Become familiar with the AVG as it pertains to homeless youth Become familiar with the McKinney-Vento Act s definition of homeless; use NCHE s brief on determining eligibility: Consult with local homeless liaisons, state coordinators, NCHE, or NAEHCY Utilize the guide developed by NCHE and NAEHCY: 16

17 How do we identify homeless students? Post information publicly in strategic places on campus (NCHE s Awareness Poster for Homeless Students: ) Identify a single point of contact for homeless students; post this information Create awareness among staff, particularly those working in the area of financial aid and student services 17

18 How can we support unaccompanied homeless students? Refer unaccompanied homeless students to community support services Establish coordination between financial aid, student support services, and campus housing Establish a food and clothing bank on campus Plan housing for homeless students when dormitories close Establish a mentoring program for unaccompanied homeless youth Establish a campus/community task force 18

19 What are some additional resources? National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) Homeless/Higher Education Web Page: Helpline: ; National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) Higher Education Web Page: Higher Education Helpline: (855) (toll-free) or 19

20 Presenter Contact Information Diana Bowman National Center for Homeless Education at The SERVE Center, Greensboro, NC NCHE is the U.S. Department of Education s technical assistance center in the area of homeless education. 20

21 Addressing the Needs of Homeless Students Evaluation System APP or Web Enter Poll ID Enter Password sasfaa 21

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