Some form of education beyond high school is increasingly necessary to obtain jobs that pay a living wage and achieve housing stability. For youth experiencing homelessness, postsecondary education provides the opportunity to break cycles of poverty and exit homelessness permanently; at the same time, homelessness creates barriers to accessing and completing higher education.

In recognition of these barriers and the importance of postsecondary education, the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) amended the McKinney-Vento Act to assist youth experiencing homelessness to transition successfully to postsecondary education. School district homeless liaisons are required to ensure that unaccompanied homeless youth are informed of their status as independent students for college financial aid, and obtain assistance to receive verification for the FAFSA. Additionally, state McKinney-Vento plans must describe how homeless youth will receive assistance from school counselors to advise, prepare, and improve their readiness for college.

This guide is designed to help LEA homeless liaisons and homeless service providers to:

  • gain a basic understanding of some important higher education programs, including those programs that have specific requirements on homelessness; and
  • create and sustain higher education partnerships. Connecting youth and young adults who experience homelessness with the appropriate resources will help pave a smoother transition to and through postsecondary education.

Download the Higher Education Contact Sheet here to keep track of the contacts.

This guide provides basic information on six important higher education resources, including those programs that have specific requirements on homelessness. Find out what services they provide, their eligibility criteria, and the role of liaisons/service providers in helping students access them.

  • ACT Fee Waiver
  • SAT Fee Waiver
  • Financial Aid
  • TRIO Programs
  • Student Affairs Professionals

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