Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Written Statement: A Template for Financial Aid Administrators

The FAFSA Simplification Act includes new requirements for Financial Aid Administrators (FAAs) to make determinations of a youth’s status as unaccompanied and homeless, or as unaccompanied, self-supporting, and at risk of homelessness if students cannot provide a determination from an authorized entity.

The Higher Education Act (HEA) uses the McKinney-Vento Act’s definition of “homeless,” which includes youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and the McKinney-Vento Act’s definition of “unaccompanied,” which includes youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. This definition is broader than shelters or the streets; it includes staying with others temporarily due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason, and staying in motels due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) defines the term “at-risk of homelessness” to refer to students whose housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate.

Under the law, and summarized in ED’s April 2023 guidance on unaccompanied homeless youth and federal financial aid,  FAAs must make a case-by-case decision that is:

Financial aid administrators can provide students this template to assist them in providing a written statement to confirm that they are an unaccompanied homeless youth, or unaccompanied, at risk homelessness and self-supporting.