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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-wash) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) today introduced legislation that will make the dream of a college diploma more accessible to homeless youth and students in foster care.

The Improving Access to Education for Students who are Homeless or in Foster Care Act would expand the Higher Education Act to ensure that these young people have the skills, resources and support needed to attend college and reach their highest potential.

There are more than 500,000 children in foster care and an estimated 1.35 million children experience homelessness each year. The extreme poverty, residential instability, lack of documentation and lack of awareness of post-secondary programs and resources that these children experience create great obstacles to college entrance.

“Breaking down the barriers to post-secondary education is difficult for many students, but when you add the challenges of extreme poverty and residential instability, the task can seem insurmountable. That’s why I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator DeWine to break down those barriers and make the dream of college a reality for America’s homeless and foster youth.” Senator Murray said.

“Education is one of the keys to ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness,” stated Senator DeWine. “We’ve seen that these children have the desire, we need to ensure that they have the opportunities.”

The Murray-DeWine bill would provide the resources and support needed to help homeless and foster youth gain access to post-secondary learning through:

  • Early Intervention: Homeless and foster care youth do not have the traditional family network to encourage or assist them in planning for a college education. These youth need help to select a college, apply for admission and obtaining financial aid. This legislation will target resources from established programs, such as GEAR Up and TRIO, toward homeless and foster students.

  • Independent Student Status: By assisting these youth to become independent students we will increase their access to student aid, for financial aid purposes - improving their chances for a smooth transition into, and completion of, higher learning.

  • Best Practices: By creating and monitoring a demonstration project we will establish a model for improved recruitment and retention of homeless and foster care students in higher education.

“Congress has a long and proud tradition of supporting and protecting the most vulnerable among us. It’s time for Congress to step up again provide the keys to a brighter future to homeless and foster children because the strength of our communities and the future of our economy depends upon access to higher education for all of America’s youth” Murray said.

“Senator Murray has long been a leader in the Senate when it comes to helping children. I’m proud to continue our work to help homeless and foster children, and will work so that all children have access to the best education,” said DeWine.

Summary of the Murray-DeWine amendment