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Homeless and foster youth often lack support to help them navigate a complicated higher education and financial aid system 

Bipartisan Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act would ask colleges and universities to improve outreach to and resources for homeless and foster students

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate education committee, and Rob Portman (R-OH), joined by Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Don Young (R-AK), introduced the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act of 2017 to help remove barriers and provide support to help homeless and foster kids access and succeed in higher education.

“The skyrocketing costs of college impact all students, but for homeless and foster students, the challenges they face far too often put higher education out of reach,” said Senator Murray. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to provide support for homeless and foster students to access, afford and graduate from college, and I will keep fighting so every student who wants to join the middle class through higher education has the opportunity to do so.”

“Kids in foster care face an uphill battle when they pursue higher education.  It is in all of our interests to help these kids who have aged out of the foster care system or have experienced homelessness and ensure that services for them are a priority in existing federal programs,” said Senator Portman. “This common-sense legislation will remove unnecessary barriers and make college more affordable these youth.  It will support college retention, and greater success in higher education to allow these youth people to graduate, pursue their dreams, and achieve their God-given potential.”

The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act of 2017 asks colleges and universities and the federal government to work together to improve outreach to and resources for homeless and foster youth, including streamlining the FAFSA, clarifying eligibility for financial aid, providing housing options between terms, and designating a single point of contact to help provide services for these vulnerable students. It also requires the U.S. Department of Education to help resolve questions about a student’s independence, publish more transparent data on the number of homeless and foster youth served, and ensure its grant programs identify, recruit and prepare homeless and foster students for college. The bill also asks states to grant in-state tuition rates for those students who haven’t had stable residency.

“Every day, our homeless and foster youth overcome challenges that remain largely invisible to their communities,” said Representative Clark. “The sad, pervasive reality is that too many students don’t know where they will get their next meal or where they will sleep tonight, but they know good grades and hard work are their best shot at a brighter future. Their hard work to better their lives shouldn’t be deterred by policies and paperwork,” said Clark. “Our bill is a simple, common sense way Congress can help students who face unique and significant challenges chart their path to success.” 

“Access to higher education should be available to each and every student that has the desire and determination to do so, regardless of their background or their means,” said Representative Young. “As a former teacher and proud grandfather of children who joined my family through the foster system, I strongly believe in the work being done through this legislation to empower our nation’s youth with the knowledge and skills to live up to their potential. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation is only one small step is better serving our homeless and foster youth, but certainly an important one to ensuring they can aspire to any level of education and success.”

Text of the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act can be found HERE.

Fact sheet on the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act can be found HERE.

Organizations supporting the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act: Alliance for Excellent Education, American Psychological Association, Advocates for Children and Youth, American School Counselor Association, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Building Changes, California Coalition for Youth, Center for Public Interest Law, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Child and Family Policy Center, Child Welfare League of America, Children Awaiting Parents/DCAA, Children First for Oregon, Children's Action Alliance, Children's Advocacy Institute, Children's Defense Fund, Children's Home Society of America, Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Community Connections Youth Project, Covenant House International, Covenant House New York, Education Law Center, Family Focused Treatment Association, First Focus Campaign for Children, First Star Institute, Inc., FosterAdopt Connect, Girls Inc., Harmony Family Center, Healthy Teen Network, Journey House, Juvenile Law Center, Kansas Appleseed, Lutheran Services in America, Michigan's Children, MomsRising, NAACP, National Association for Children's Behavioral Health, National Association of Counsel for Children, National Center on Adoption and Permanency, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Network for Youth, Nebraska Appleseed, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation - Connected Youth Initiative, New Mexico Voices for Children, Northwest Resource Associates/Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center, PACE Center for Girls, SchoolHouse Connection, Single Stop, Southwest Human Development, Inc., Spaulding for Children, StandUp For Kids, Voice for Adoption, Wisconsin HOPE Lab, Youth Villages, Western Regional Advocacy Project, and Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.