PAVING THE WAY TO COLLEGE FOR STUDENTS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS. Christina Dukes Carol Handlan

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1 PAVING THE WAY TO COLLEGE FOR STUDENTS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS Christina Dukes Carol Handlan

2 Meet Your Presenters Christina Dukes, Program Specialist, National Center for Homeless Education NCHE operates the U.S. Department of Education s homeless education technical assistance center Carol Handlan, Higher Education Access Partner, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) PHEAA is a national provider of student financial aid services, serving millions of students and thousands of schools through its loan guaranty, loan servicing, financial aid processing, outreach, and other student aid programs

3 Session Outline Dealing with application expenses College entrance exam fees College application fees Seeking financial aid and scholarships The FAFSA for accompanied homeless students The FAFSA for unaccompanied homeless students Private scholarships State-specific opportunities Options for undocumented homeless students

4 Foundational Documents The McKinney-Vento Act; available at The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), available at The Application and Verification Guide (AVG), available at

5 College Admissions Timeline Take the SAT and/or ACT Complete and submit college applications Complete and submit the FAFSA More information is available from the College Board: College Application Calendar: Financial Aid Calendar:

6 College Entrance Exam: The ACT To qualify for an ACT fee waiver, the student: Must be enrolled in high school in the 11th or 12th grade Must be a U.S. citizen (if testing abroad) or be testing in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or a U.S. territory Must meet one or more of the following indicators of economic need: Student is receiving free/reduced lunch Family income is below the USDA reduced-price lunch level Student is enrolled in TRIO or a similar program Family lives in subsidized housing or receives public assistance Student is experiencing homelessness Student is living in a foster home Student is a ward of the state or is an orphan

7 College Entrance Exam: The ACT Student can use the waiver to take the ACT up to two times The waiver is sent to high schools each summer; students must access the waiver from the school counselor, not from ACT The waiver must be signed by the student and school counselor The waiver covers the basic test fees, including sending the test score(s) to up to four colleges; does not cover late registration fees or change fees Additional information is available at A sample 2011/2012 fee waiver is available at

8 College Entrance Exam: The SAT To qualify for an SAT fee waiver, the student must: Be enrolled in high school in the 11th or 12th grade (SAT) or in grades 9-12 (SAT Subject Tests) Be a U.S. citizen (if testing abroad) or be testing in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or a U.S. territory Meet one or more of the following indicators of economic need (same as for the ACT) Student is receiving free/reduced lunch Family income is below the USDA reduced-price lunch level Student is enrolled in TRIO or a similar program Family lives in subsidized housing or receives public assistance Student is experiencing homelessness Student is living in a foster home Student is a ward of the state or is an orphan

9 College Entrance Exam: The SAT The waiver must be obtained from the student s high school counselor or an authorized agency, not from the College Board To be valid, the waiver must be completed by the high school guidance counselor The student can receive up to four waiver cards: Up to 2 waivers for the SAT and 2 waivers for SAT Subject Tests

10 College Entrance Exam: The SAT The waiver covers the basic test fees, including sending the test score(s) to up to four colleges; up to four Request for Waiver of College Application Fee forms, and a $40 discount for the Official SAT Online Course; does not cover late registration fees or change fees College application fee waivers should be included with the students college applications and sent to colleges included in the Directory of Colleges Cooperating with the SAT Program Fee-Waiver Service Additional information is available at

11 College Application Fees College Board program (mentioned on previous slide) National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) form To be completed with the help of the high school counselor For graduating high school seniors entering college in the fall Based on income and/or the counselor s knowledge of the family s circumstances Same eligibility criteria as the ACT and SAT waiver programs Additional information from the College Board: applications/fee-waivers Additional information from NACAC: default.aspx

12 College Application Fees Most colleges follow the College Board s and NACAC s guidelines for determining application fee waiver eligibility; however, individual institutions may have their own fee waiver policies that vary Some colleges do not charge application fees for students that apply online NCHE does not recommend using McKinney-Vento subgrant funds to pay for college entrance exam or college application fees, as waivers are available

13 FAFSA Basics FAFSA = Free Application for Federal Student Aid The official FAFSA web address is Students applying for federal aid must complete a FAFSA for each school year for which they are seeking federal aid A new FAFSA is released each January for the upcoming school year Example: FAFSA Released in January 2012 Valid for students attending school for Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 Treatment of the Summer term depends on the school

14 Calculation of Federal Aid EFC = Expected Family Contribution; based on the information submitted on the FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education will calculate the EFC Dependent Student Must report parent information on FAFSA EFC is based on parents and student s income and assets Independent Student Does NOT report parent information on FAFSA EFC is based on student s income and assets

15 Dependent or Independent? Accompanied students experiencing homelessness fill out the FAFSA as dependent students Living arrangement meets the M-V definition of homeless In the physical custody of a parent or guardian

16 Dependent or Independent? Unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness fill out the FAFSA as independent students Living arrangement meets the M-V definition of homeless Not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian 21 or younger or still enrolled in high school on the date he/she signs the FAFSA At risk of homelessness : when a student s housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate, for example, a student who is being evicted and has been unable to find fixed, regular, and adequate housing.

17 Accompanied Homeless Students and the FAFSA Provide information on parent income and assets and their own income and assets Need parent signature The EFC is based on family income and assets; as such, even though they fill out the FAFSA as dependent students, homeless students from low-income families will likely qualify for a beneficial aid package Example: The EFC Formula, explains that, under certain circumstances, students qualify for an automatic $0 EFC, including students who received free school meals in 2010 or 2011, and whose parents 2011 income is less than $23,000 e1213.pdf

18 Unaccompanied Homeless Students 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 Independent status is not equivalent to free tuition; however, the EFC is calculated proportional to what the student can provide based on his/her resources

19 Classification as Independent Independent if ANY of these are true: Married 24 years old Veteran or on active duty Graduate student Has a legal dependent (child/other) Orphan/Ward of the court/in a legal guardianship Legally emancipated minor In foster care at age 13 or older Unaccompanied homeless youth Independent by professional judgment or dependency override as determined by the Financial Aid Administrator (FAA)

20 Determiners of Independent Status for UHY Local homeless education liaison; for students graduating from high school who were identified as an UHY while in high school U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shelter director or designee; for students who have received services Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) shelter director or designee; for students who have received services Financial Aid Administrator (FAA); for any student, but particularly those who cannot get a determination from one of the other three authorized parties

21 Application and Verification Guide Updated Application and Verification Guide (AVG) released in March 2012 Student can use the college s administrative address as his/her mailing address Youth = 21 or younger or still enrolled in high school on the date he/she signs the FAFSA Ages = need a dependency override for independent status Age 24 or older is automatic independent status

22 The Role of the FAA If a student does not have, and cannot get, a determination from a local liaison, RHYA provider, or HUD provider, a financial aid administrator 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 homeless youth 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

23 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 Encourages discretion and sensitivity when gathering information Some information may be confidential (e.g., protected by doctor-patient privilege) Child welfare and/or law enforcement reports are not necessary Recommends consulting with local liaisons, State Coordinators, NCHE, school counselors, clergy, etc. Eligibility determinations may be appealed to the school or the U.S. Department of Education

24 Online FAFSA

25 Online FAFSA

26 PDF/Paper FAFSA

27 Notes from the PDF/Paper FAFSA

28 Resources NAEHCY Template (Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Documentation of Independent Student Status for the FAFSA) available at NCHE/NAEHCY FAA Tool (Making Student Status Determinations for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth: Eligibility Tool for Financial Aid Administrators) available at

29 Private Scholarships Check with the school s guidance counselor for a list of private scholarships available to area students The LeTendre Education Fund Scholarship: Give Us Your Poor/Horatio Alger Scholarship:

30 Private Scholarships Free scholarship search engines: Fastweb!: College Board: U.S. Department of Education: olarship_find.html (includes scholarship search tips and guidelines)

31 Other Considerations Encourage the student to consider a variety of institutions with different price points A student may not be able to afford a particular institution, but other good college options may be available A student may start at a community college and transfer to a four-year college at a later time Consider housing options if looking into a school without dorms

32 Undocumented Students Undocumented students may face obstacles in three areas: Admission Tuition Financial aid

33 College Admission for Undocumented Students There is no federal or state law prohibiting the admission of undocumented immigrants into U.S. colleges and universities Institution-specific policies, however, vary: Some institutions of higher education do not require students to prove citizenship in order to gain admission, while others do Some institutions admit undocumented students but treat them as out-of-state or foreign students, making them ineligible for state aid and in-state tuition

34 College Tuition for Undocumented Students Many states charge undocumented students out-of-state tuition fees States that permit undocumented students to pay in-state tuition under certain circumstances include California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington For example, California's law requires the undocumented student to have attended a state high school for three or more years, to have graduated from a state high school, and to sign an affidavit promising to file an application to legalize his immigration status

35 Financial Aid for Undocumented Students Undocumented students cannot legally receive any federally funded student financial aid, including loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study programs Undocumented students are not eligible for state aid to attend a state institution in most states, although a handful of states grant eligibility for state aid to undocumented students who qualify for in-state tuition Private colleges and universities set their own financial aid policies; some are willing to give scholarships and other aid to undocumented students Many, but not all, private scholarships require applicants to be U.S. citizens or legal residents

36 More Information Visit ncial-aid/undocumented-students for more information, including: Information on state laws regarding college access for undocumented students A list of scholarships available to all students, regardless of immigration status

37 State Resources Some states have special provisions available for low-income and/or homeless students: Indiana Students receiving free lunch receive a tuition waiver when participating in Indiana s Double Up Program (dual enrollment in college courses for students in 11 th and 12 th grade) ml Indiana Twenty-First Century Scholars Program - Incomeeligible 7th and 8th graders who enroll in the program and fulfill a pledge of good citizenship are guaranteed to receive up to four years of undergraduate tuition at any participating public college or university in Indiana

38 State Resources Florida Homeless students are exempt from the payment of tuition and fees, including lab fees, at a school district that provides postsecondary career programs, community college, or state university (2011 F.S ); Florida statute establishes the definition of homeless used Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL= /1009/Sections/ html

39 Online FAFSA Grant Link Two Applications in One Process Take advantage of the opportunity to file the FAFSA and the State Grant application in one online session!

40 Online FAFSA Grant Link First page of the FAFSA under student demographics; this is the page where the student identifies their state of legal residence. State residency information is established. FAFSA On The Web now knows what state application to present to the student.

41 Online FAFSA Grant Link After submitting the FAFSA, the students are provided with a confirmation page from which they will be given the option to transfer their FAFSA data to their state grant application.

42 Online FAFSA Grant Link

43 Online FAFSA Grant Link At this point, students who click on the link will be automatically moved to their appropriate State Grant Form (SGF) for the completion of the additional information items that are needed.

44 Online PA State Grant The opportunity to use the online state grant application will only occur at the point of completing the first FAFSA On The Web. It cannot be accessed at any other point in time. Renewal students may not need to complete the PA State Grant Form; a message will indicate that to them.

45 Online PA State Grant Students who do not take advantage of this opportunity via the FAFSA will still be able to complete the online PA State Grant Form through PHEAA Account Access as they have in the past. They will be directed via to Account Access at

46 Online PA State Grant Form

47 Online PA State Grant Form

48 Online PA State Grant Form Students will now be presented with the additional questions needed to determine state grant eligibility, which includes such items as enrollment status, value of PA 529 College Savings Program, program of study for students in vocational programs, and employment status. Help screens are available for all questions.

49 Online PA State Grant Form

50 Online PA State Grant Form Printing, signing, and mailing in the state grant confirmation page is the last step in the process. PHEAA is working on an electronic signature capability, but that is not available at this time. Students will be able to view their status on Account Access available at about three days after completing the FAFSA On The Web. Establish a personal account at

51 PA State Grant Documentation Documentation will be requested to verify the information provided on the FAFSA where a student has been identified as homeless. The documentation will be accepted from: School district homeless liaison Representative from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Director of a homeless shelter/transitional living facility

52 Questions?

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