Help youth experiencing homelessness #DoTheFAFSA

Every youth deserves a chance at postsecondary education.

Higher education remains the surest path to economic stability and a life free from homelessness. However, the 2024-2025 FAFSA has had numerous delays and glitches, making it significantly harder for homeless youth to access financial aid and pursue higher education.

This page offers resources to help you assist students experiencing homelessness in completing the 2024-2025 FAFSA.

Understanding the different definitions

Unaccompanied homeless youth, or unaccompanied youth at risk of homelessness and self-supporting require additional steps to fill out the FAFSA. The first step is understanding what these terms mean.

Unaccompanied homeless youth or unaccompanied homeless youth at risk of homelessness and self-supporting are “independent” students on the FAFSA and do not need to include parental information. If youth are experiencing homelessness with their families, they are “dependent” students on the FAFSA and would need to include parental information.

Here are ways to help youth fill out the FAFSA:

Identify and Provide Outreach to Students

The first step in helping students experiencing homelessness fill out the FAFSA is to identify and provide outreach to students. Some students might not know they meet the definition of homelessness.

K-12 Identification Tips Strategies for Identifying Homeless College Students

Help Students Answer FAFSA Questions

If the student meets the definition of an unaccompanied homeless youth or an unaccompanied youth at risk of homelessness and self-supporting, the student would answer “yes” to the homeless question.  

Independent students do not need to include parental information and may qualify for additional financial support, like Pell Grants. 

Unaccompanied homeless youth have a FAFSA process that is different from students who have experience in foster care, students with unusual circumstances, and students who are provisionally independent. Unaccompanied homeless youth should not go through dependency override processes for the FAFSA, but instead homeless youth determination processes. 

How to Answer FAFSA Questions About Homelessness

Provide Students with Unaccompanied Homeless Determinations

Once an unaccompanied homeless youth has been identified, they need to receive a determination. This determination can be a letter or a documented phone call. Determinations can be made from the following authorized entities: 

If you are one of the people listed above, you can provide the student with a determination. Keep a copy of the determination for your records and encourage the student to keep a copy too. 

Follow Up with Students

Continue helping the student fill out the FAFSA as instructed. The financial aid office will request the homeless determination, which will process the student’s award letter. If you are an authorized entity, the financial aid must accept this determination and should not request additional documentation unless there is conflicting information. 

Reminder: Unaccompanied homeless youth should go through an unaccompanied homeless youth determination process, not a dependency override.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have more questions, please contact us!