College Friends

Higher Education & Postsecondary Opportunities

Higher education is a key to helping students experiencing homelessness escape poverty. There are several programs available through the federal Higher Education Act, such as the TRIO programs, that help students graduate from high school, apply and enroll in college, and complete their degrees. In December 2015, the McKinney-Vento Act was reauthorized as Title IX, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Under the amendments to McKinney-Vento, liaisons must make sure that unaccompanied homeless youth are informed of their status as independent students for college financial aid and that they get help verifying their status for the FAFSA. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(6)(A)(x)(III). The amendments to McKinney-Vento also require that school districts advise, prepare, and improve the college readiness of students in temporary housing. 42 U.S.C. § 11432(g)(1)(K).

Topic Resources

arrow&v
Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Website

ACT Fee Waivers

ACT Fee Waivers: The ACT webpage describes the steps that economically disadvantaged high school juniors or seniors should follow to receive a fee waiver for taking the ACT college entrance exam.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

Application and Verification Guide to the FAFSA

United States Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education’s “Application and Verification Guide” (AVG) provides instructions and guidance for filling out the FAFSA form for financial aid.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

Applying for TAP as an Independent Student

The New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) is a grant program for NYS residents who are full-time undergraduate students and are enrolled in an eligible program within the state. Annual awards range from $500 to $5,000. See Student Status section of this FAQs page.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Laws & Guidance

College Counseling and Access for Youth Experiencing Homelessness

NYSED Field Memo

NYSED’s McKinney-Vento Field Memo #03-2018 (April 2018) outlines the responsibilities of Local Educational Agencies (LEAs, including school districts, charter schools, and BOCES) to support students in temporary housing in pursuing college or other post-secondary opportunities. The memo identifies best practices and provides helpful resources LEAs can use to satisfy these responsibilities.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

College Guide

Published by the U.S. Department of Education, this new guide provides information and resources on applying to, paying for, and succeeding in college. It was written specifically for youth who are or were ever homeless, or are at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Laws & Guidance

Dear Colleague Letter on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Determinations

United States Department of Education

This July 29, 2015, Dear Colleague letter from the U.S. Department of Education provides guidance for financial aid administrators on the definition of homelessness, how to make determinations, and how to document students’ status. It revises the prior policy so that all applicants under age 24, including those who are 22 or 23 years old, are unaccompanied and experiencing homelessness, or are self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, qualify for a homeless youth determination and will be considered independent students.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Website

Financial Aid Toolkit

United States Department of Education

This Toolkit from the U.S. Department of Education provides federal student aid information and outreach tools for counselors, college access professionals, nonprofit mentors, and other advisors.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

High School Graduation Options for Students with Disabilities

This fact sheet from Advocates for Children of New York details high school graduation options for students with disabilities, including the different safety net options for students with disabilities to graduate with a local diploma. The fact sheet contains information about Superintendent Determinations, which don’t have a minimum Regents exam score requirement.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Forms & Templates

Homeless Unaccompanied Youth Verification Form for the Purposes of Federal Financial Aid

This template form from SchoolHouse Connection can be used by LEA liaisons, HUD-funded shelter staff, and RHYA shelter staff for verifying a student’s status as an unaccompanied homeless youth for the FAFSA.

About the Source

From SchoolHouse Connection: SchoolHouse Connection is a national organization working to overcome homelessness through education. We provide strategic advocacy and technical assistance in partnership with early childhood programs, schools, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth. We believe education is the only permanent solution to homelessness. Our vision is that children and youth experiencing homelessness have full access to quality learning, birth through higher education, so they will never be homeless as adults, and the next generation will never be homeless.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Scholarships

Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans

The Horatio Alger Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to students in NYS who have exhibited integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity, including homelessness, and who aspire to pursue higher education.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

Increasing Access to Higher Education for Unaccompanied Youth

NCHE Brief

This NCHE brief includes a summary of education legislation prior to 2012 that gives unaccompanied homeless youth access to educational supports and provides examples of practices that high schools, colleges, and universities have used to assist these students in succeeding.

Please note: this guidance does not include changes made by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which added new protections for students in temporary housing.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

NCHE Summary of the 2017-2018 Application and Verification Guide to FAFSA

his NCHE guide provides a summary of the changes to the U.S. Department of Education’s “Application and Verification Guide” (AVG) for 2017-2018.

About the Source

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) operates the Department’s technical assistance center for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. In this role, NCHE works with schools, service providers, parents, and other interested stakeholders to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness can enroll and succeed in school.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

National Center for Homeless Education’s Education Goals and Supports: A Guided Discussion Tool

National Center for Homeless Education’s Education Goals and Supports: A Guided Discussion Tool

About the Source

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) operates the Department’s technical assistance center for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY) Program. In this role, NCHE works with schools, service providers, parents, and other interested stakeholders to ensure that children and youth experiencing homelessness can enroll and succeed in school.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Website

SAT Fee Waivers

SAT Fee Waivers: The College Board webpage linked below explains how a high school junior and senior can receive a fee-waiver in order to take the SAT college entrance exam or SAT subject tests. It also discusses how a college-bound student can receive waivers for college application fees.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Scholarships

Scholarship Opportunities

Here is a list of resources for college scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Website

SchoolHouse Connection (SHC) Higher Education Resources for Students Experiencing Homelessness

SchoolHouse Connection (SHC) has webpages with a variety of resources and links regarding students in temporary housing who wish to pursue post-secondary education.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Scholarships

SchoolHouse Connection Scholarship Program Flyer for School Year 2020-2021

View SchoolHouse Connection’s Youth Leadership & Scholarship Program’s informational flyer for school year 2020-2021! This scholarship provides an opportunity for youth who have experienced homelessness to ensure their completion of a post-secondary education program.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Scholarships

SchoolHouse Connection Youth Leadership and Scholarship Program

This scholarship program provides scholarships, networking opportunities, and support services to students who have experienced homelessness applying or attending college.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

Superintendent Determination Option and Safety Net Options for Students with Disabilities

New York State Education Department

This presentation from NYSED’s Committee of Practitioners details the different safety net options for students with disabilities to graduate with a local diploma, including new information about Superintendent Determinations that went into effect in December 2017 and don’t have a minimum Regents exam score requirement.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Forms & Templates

Supporting College Access Checklist

NYS-TEACHS

This checklist includes strategies McKinney-Vento liaisons and school districts can use to ensure that youth experiencing homelessness have access to college access services and other supports to help ensure that they are ready for post-secondary opportunities.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Website

The FAFSA Simplification Act: Youth Experiencing Homelessness and Youth with Experience in Foster Care

The FAFSA Simplification Act (enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 and updated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021) aims to remove many of the barriers faced by youth experiencing homelessness or with experience in foster care. The new provisions for homeless and foster youth should go into effect for the 2023-2024 award year, and be reflected on the new FAFSA on October 1, 2022.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Website

The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) Higher Education Resources for Students Experiencing Homelessness

The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) has webpages with a variety of resources and links regarding students in temporary housing who wish to pursue post-secondary education.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

Tips for Helping Homeless Youth Succeed in College

This tip sheet series from SchoolHouse Connection provides important information about helping homeless youth succeed in college. The series highlights best practices for supporting these students, which have been submitted from institutions across the country. The tip sheets are living documents that will be updated regularly to provide new and innovative practices.

The series includes:

Strategies for Transitioning from High School to College
Strategies for Identifying Homeless College Students
Strategies for Housing On and Off Campus
Strategies for Accessing Financial Aid
Strategies for Creating and Sustaining Campus-Based Programs

About the Source

From SchoolHouse Connection: SchoolHouse Connection is a national organization working to overcome homelessness through education. We provide strategic advocacy and technical assistance in partnership with early childhood programs, schools, institutions of higher education, service providers, families, and youth. We believe education is the only permanent solution to homelessness. Our vision is that children and youth experiencing homelessness have full access to quality learning, birth through higher education, so they will never be homeless as adults, and the next generation will never be homeless.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

Toolkit for Undocumented Students

A Guide for Undocumented Students Going Through the College Matriculation Process

From CARA: Undocumented young people have a right to college. This toolkit is for them. The purpose of this resource is to help undocumented students realize their college dreams by presenting new ways to look at the college application process. We also hope educators, counselors, undocufriendly organizations, parent(s)/guardian(s), and young people will use this toolkit to help undocumented students pursue higher education, regardless of their immigration status.

About the Source

College Access: Research & Action (CARA). CARA’s mission is to ensure that first-generation college students, low-income students, and students of color have the knowledge and support necessary to enroll in and persist through college.

Guides & Fact Sheets Icon.jpg
Guides & Fact Sheets

Understanding FAFSA: The How-To Guide for High School Students

This guide is designed to help students and families navigate the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to get financial aid for college. The guide will be particularly useful for students who are among the first in their family to go to college, or are new to the country. It is available in English, Spanish, and eight other languages.