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Successfully Transitioning Unaccompanied Youth to Higher Education May 17, 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Successfully Transitioning Unaccompanied Youth to Higher Education May 17, 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Successfully Transitioning Unaccompanied Youth to Higher Education May 17, 2011

2 Dana Scott, Statewide Homeless Education Coordinator Colorado Department of Education Misti Ruthven, College Access Director Colorado Department of Higher Education

3 How many youth experience homelessness on their own? 1.6 to 1.7 million youth Public schools 956,914 homeless children/youth in – 41% increase over past two years – 69% increase for unaccompanied youth

4 4 Homelessness and Foster Care What’s the Connection? 22% of homeless children are put into foster care 30% of children in foster care could return home if their parents had access to housing. Approximately 27% of homeless adults and 41% of homeless youth report a foster care history. 25% of youth “aging out” of foster care experience homelessness.

5 Definition of Homelessness Children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence— Children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence— 67% - Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason 7% - Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, camping grounds due to lack of adequate alternative accommodations 22% - Living in emergency or transitional shelters

6 Educational Rights Under The McKinney-Vento Act Broad mandate for all school districts to remove barriers to school enrollment and retention by revising policies and practices Remain in the school of origin (if in best interest) Transportation to the school of origin Immediate enrollment Access to programs and services Access to dispute resolution procedures

7 McKinney-Vento Personnel Every State Education Agency has an Office of State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Every State Education Agency has an Office of State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth – Collaboration responsibilities across agencies and with communities – Technical assistance to LEAs – Compliance – Professional development – Data collection and reporting

8 Legislation Defining Homelessness In September of 2007, President Bush signed into law the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 Included within this legislation are amendments to expand the definition of independent student in FAFSA to include: (1) unaccompanied homeless youth; (2) youth who are in foster care at any time after the age of 13 or older, and; (3) youth who are emancipated minors or are in legal guardianships as determined by an appropriate court in the individual's state of residence.

9 Who are Unaccompanied Homeless Youth? Defining Homelessness Unaccompanied Not in the physical custody of parents Homeless Children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence Children and youth who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence Youth Under 24 years of age

10 On or after July 1, 2009, were you homeless or were you at risk of being homeless? At any time on or after July 1, 2009, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless? At any time on or after July 1, 2009, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless? At any time on or after July 1, 2009, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless? Who are Unaccompanied Homeless Youth? FAFSA

11 To Verify or Not Verify? FAFSA Verification is not required If choose to verify, authorized entities are: – a McKinney-Vento Act school district liaison – a HUD homeless assistance program director or their designee – a Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program director or their designee – a financial aid administrator. Sample verification template at

12 Verification Partners FAFSA HUD-funded Shelters: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers funding for homeless shelters and services under Title IV of the McKinney-Vento Act. These funds are distributed to communities through a competitive grant process. For more information, see:

13 RHYA-funded Shelters: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs. These programs provide funding for Basic Centers, Transitional Living Programs, and Street Outreach Programs that serve runaway and other unaccompanied homeless youth. For more information, see: Verification Partners FAFSA

14 McKinney Vento Homeless Education Liaisons Each school district in the US is mandated to appoint a liaison Each school district in the US is mandated to appoint a liaison See State Coordinator List in your packet See State Coordinator List in your packet Verification Partners FAFSA

15 Financial Aid Administrators If a student does not have, and cannot get, verification from a liaison, RHYA provider, or HUD provider, a financial aid administrator must make a determination of homeless/unaccompanied status This is NOT professional judgment or a dependency override A student living in a dormitory who would otherwise be homeless should be considered homeless A student fleeing abuse and living in homeless living situations may be considered homeless even if the parent would provide a place to live Verification Partners FAFSA

16 Application and Verification Guide - 3 No prescribed documentation for financial aid evaluation of living arrangements, but it must demonstrate that student meets the definition Determination may be made on the basis of a documented interview with the student if no written documentation is available FAAs may rely upon a determination from another school that a student met definition

17 Verification for Subsequent Years FAFSA Have the student’s circumstances changed? Would they be in similar circumstances w/o financial aid? Verification may be done through a simple phone call or exchange with the student. Sample verification template at

18 Financial Aid Facts Unaccompanied Homeless Youth For financial aid purposes, unaccompanied homeless youth are: – Independent students - can apply for federal aid without parental income information or signature. What makes UHY different from other independent populations on the FAFSA? – Parental contact – Grey Area What about youth between 21 & 24 years of age? – Students who are older than 21 but not yet 24 and who are unaccompanied and homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless qualify for a dependency override.

19 Barriers to Higher Education Documents Address Computer access Forms Campus resources Communication Street names Privacy Laws

20 HEOA 2008 and Homelessness Entities not using a cohort approach for GEAR UP must include homeless children and youth and youth in foster care as priority students. Entities using a cohort approach for GEAR UP should include homeless children and youth and youth in foster care as priority students.

21 HEOA 2008 and Homelessness TRIO programs must “identify and make available services..including mentoring, tutoring, and other services provided…” to: – Youth in foster care – Youth who left foster care after age 13 – Homeless children and youth All three groups are automatically eligible to participate in Talent Search, Upward Bound, Student Support Services, and Educational Opportunity Centers.

22 Higher Education & K-12 Partnership Convene Task Force – Stakeholders – Best Practices Liaison and Higher Education Trainings Financial Aid Admissions Student Services Faculty

23 Task Force on Higher Ed for UHY 4 Meetings – Established expectations and acknowledged barriers – Discussed impact to higher education – Identified goals Stakeholders – Higher Ed – Pre-Collegiates – Service Providers – K-12 – McKinney-Vento – State Agencies

24 Task Force Goals Identify and create process standards between all parties including colleges/universities, high school and McKinney Vento liaisons Develop best practices in transitioning homeless students into higher education Identify a SAFE, single point of contact at each college/university to interface with students. Create a tip sheet in working with unaccompanied homeless youth

25 Recommendation #1 Identify a safe, single point of contact (SPOC) at each college/university to serve homeless unaccompanied youth. Add contact info on college/university printed materials and websites - 3-pronged approach - Network - Streamline verification

26 Recommendation #2 Develop a streamlined process to other services within college/university − Mental Health − Admissions − Financial Aid − Student Services − Retention − Student Life − Academic Advising/Support Services − Learning Disability Services − Mentoring Programs − Housing Programs − Student Services − Self-Advocacy – Financial Literacy – Life Skills

27 Recommendation #3 Centrally store personal documentation for homeless unaccompanied youth through a confidential, state- supported Website accessible by the youth over their lifetimes − SSN − Immunization Records − Driver’s License − GED or Diploma − High School Transcripts − Health Exams − Selective Service − Birth Certificates − ACT/SAT − Taxes

28 Recommendation #4 Single form for unaccompanied homeless youth verification within same school year for use by all stakeholders - Streamline form - Form sharing - Electronic forms - Documentation expectations

29 Recommendation #4 Single form for unaccompanied homeless youth verification within same school year for use by all stakeholders - Streamline form - Form sharing - Electronic forms - Documentation expectations

30 Road Show 92 presentations to counselors, liaisons, college & university professionals, teachers, paraprofessionals and legislators 17 conference calls w/ state, regional & national stakeholders 7 states interested in replicating Colorado’s model California, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington 7 full-day SPOC trainings 5 media interviews (including Chicago Tribune) 4 presentations to national professional associations 4 homeless education liaison trainings 4 food banks established 3 national webinars 2 mentor programs

31 Supporting Documents FAFSA Tips for Unaccompanied Youth Helping Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Access College Financial Aid Income Tax and the FAFSA for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Verification For the Purposes of Federal Financial Aid 31

32 Contact Information Misti Ruthven Colo Dept of Higher Ed (303) (phone) Dana Scott Colo Dept of Ed, McKinney-Vento (303) (phone)


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