Another ESSA amendment to the McKinney-Vento Act requires school district liaisons to inform unaccompanied homeless youth of their status as independent students for financial aid (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA) and help them obtain verification of that status.

To help implement this policy, we’ve prepared a sample form letter to determine the independent student status of unaccompanied homeless youth for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (Microsoft Word). This form letter may be edited as appropriate for your school district, institution of higher education, shelter, transitional living program, or street outreach program.

Per federal guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, “if a student indicates that they are an unaccompanied homeless youth—or unaccompanied and self-supporting youth at-risk of homelessness—and the student is unable to provide documentation from at least one of the entities listed above, FAAs must review the student’s circumstances and make the determination themselves.

Financial aid administrators have the responsibility to make determinations of unaccompanied homeless youth if youth are unable to get determinations from other entities. This template can be used by financial aid administrators to make unaccompanied homeless youth determinations.

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