Youth experiencing homelessness and youth from foster care face unique barriers to accessing and completing higher education. Lack of family and supports, coupled with histories of neglect, abuse, trauma, mobility, and severe poverty, place barriers in their path to and through post-secondary education. Yet higher education is their best opportunity for economic independence, health, stability, and well-being.

On March 13, 2019, bipartisan, bicameral legislation was introduced to remove barriers to higher education access and success caused by homelessness and foster care.

The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act of 2019 (S.789/H.R.1724) was introduced by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in the Senate, and by U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark (D-5th/MA) and Don Young (R-At Large/AK) in the House of Representatives.

HEASHFY amends the Higher Education Act to simplify eligibility for federal financial aid and to improve outreach, resources, and policies for homeless and foster youth. The legislation:

  • Streamlines the process of applying for and receiving financial aid;
  • Helps students access housing;
  • Designates a higher education liaison to help students access services;
  • Asks states to grant in-state tuition rates to those students who haven’t had stable residency;
  • Ensures that college access programs identify, recruit, and prepare homeless and foster students for college; and
  • Requires the U.S. Department of Education to help resolve questions about a student’s independence, simplify the FAFSA, and publish useable data and reports.

A fact sheet on HEASHFY by the Congressional sponsors may be found here.
A fact sheet on how HEASHFY responds to GAO findings may be found here.
A more detailed brief explaining HEASHFY’s provisions may be found here.
The text of the legislation may be found here.

Action Needed

  1. Please urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor HEASHFY. We’ve created two sample letters in Microsoft Word – one for your U.S. Senators, and one for your U.S. Representative. Please download the letters and personalize them with local or state facts, as well as your own perspectives and experiences.
    • Contact information for U.S. Senators may be found here.
    • Contact information for U.S. Representatives may be found here.
  2. If you represent a local, state, or national organization, please sign your organization on as a supporter of the bill by filling out this form

List of Endorsing Organizations, as of March 28, 2019

Alliance for Excellent Education
American Psychological Association
American School Counselor Association
Center for Law and Social Policy
Child Welfare League of America
Children’s Advocacy Institute
Children’s Defense Fund
Education Reform Now Advocacy
Family Focused Treatment Association
Family Promise
First Focus Campaign for Children
Girls Inc.
Healthy Teen Network
Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice
Juvenile Law Center
National Association for College Admission Counseling
National Association of Counsel for Children
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
National Association of Social Workers
National Center on Adoption and Permanency
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Crittenton
National Education Association
National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
National Network for Youth
Partnering for Change
School Social Work Association of America
SchoolHouse Connection
StandUp For Kids
Teach Plus
The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research
True Colors United
Young Invincibles
Youth Villages

Advocates for Children and Youth, MC
Advokids, CA
Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation
Bridgewater State University, MA
California Coalition for Youth
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Children’s Action Alliance, AZ
End Domestic Abuse WI
FACES: Foster Care Alumni Creating Educational Success, TX
Foster Progress, IL
Fostering Success Michigan
John Burton Advocates for Youth, CA
The New Foster Care, MI
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
Virginia Poverty Law Center
Voices for Virginia’s Children
Voices for Utah Children
Youth Futures, Utah
Youth Policy Institute, CA

Covington Community School Corporation, KY
Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, IN
Homeless Youth Connection, AZ
KidsVoice, PA
Kids In Crisis – Intervention Team, Franklin, KY
LMT Behavioral Health, LLC
LYTE Collective, IL
Metropolitan School District of Pike Township, IN
Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, IN
North Vermillion Elementary School, IN
Outreach Inc, IN
Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp, IN
People’s Emergency Center, Philadelphia, PA
Pike County School Corporation, IN
School City of East Chicago, IN
Second Story, VA
South Bend Schools, IN
Teen Living Programs, Chicago, IL
The Center for Urban Youth and Family Development, Detroit, MI
The Night Ministry, Chicago, IL

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