Higher Education and FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

The Financial Aid Toolkit

https://financialaidtoolkit.ed.gov/tk/about/how-to.jsp The Financial Aid Toolkit provides school counselors and other college access mentors with information and resources about federal student aid. This site contains material about different types of financial aid, the FAFSA, outreach, and training opportunities. You’ll find fact sheets, videos, PowerPoint presentations, and other resources to share with students to help them learn… Read more »

Federal Guidance and Resources to Support Completion and Success in Higher Education

http://www.ed.gov/category/keyword/resources-support-completion http://www2.ed.gov/documents/press-releases/federal-supports-college-access-completion.pdf The U.S. Department of Education – in collaboration with partners from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor – released a fact sheet on New Federal Guidance and Resources to Support Completion and Success in Higher Education and an accompanying federal interagency letter entitled Aligning… Read more »

Addressing Housing Insecurity and Living Costs in Higher Education: A Guidebook for Colleges and Universities

https://www.huduser.gov/portal/publications/HousingInsecurityInHigherEd.html The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in partnership with the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, released a resource entitled Addressing Housing Insecurity and Living Costs in Higher Education: A Guidebook for Colleges and Universities. With high rates of college enrollment despite stagnant or declining family incomes and increasing college costs, today many college… Read more »

Better Make Room

https://bettermakeroom.org/our-story Better Make Room is about creating a space for all the great things you’ll do next. It’s about staking a claim, forging a path and lighting the way for others just like you. And it’s a lot more fun to get there together. The site includes: Tools –  developed by the U.S. Department of… Read more »

HIGHER EDUCATION: Actions Needed to Improve Access to Federal Financial Assistance for Homeless and Foster Youth

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report on the challenges and barriers affecting the ability of homeless and foster youth to pursue a college education. GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the “congressional watchdog,” GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. GAO reports often… Read more »

Hungry to Learn: Addressing Food and Housing Insecurity Among Undergraduates

In December 2015, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab released Hungry to Learn: Addressing Food and Housing Insecurity Among Undergraduates. This report surveys more than 4,000 undergraduate students at 10 community colleges from around the country to assess the incidence of food and housing insecurity, including homelessness, among these students. According to survey results, “half of all… Read more »

Collegiate Resources for Students with Disabilities

A recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics states that over 2.5 million college students, around 11%, live with a disability. As part of their effort to support students in their pursuit of a rewarding and successful college experience, BestColleges.com has compiled a collection of resources for students with disabilities. The collection includes… Read more »

College Guide for LGBTQ Students

Choosing the right college is a difficult process for anyone. As a student who identifies as LGBTQ this task becomes downright daunting as they must also try and find a place of acceptance, inclusion, and support. The College Guide for LGBTQ Students is designed to help students down this path – a planning guide they… Read more »

A guide to Online Colleges in Texas

The growth of educational technology has brought a wide range of distance learning opportunities to Texas. More and more colleges are beginning to offer full courses and certificates within the online platform, and many have graduated to full distance-learning degree programs. Texas Tech University, for example, has more than 50 fully online and hybrid programs… Read more »

Making Student Status Determinations for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth: Eligibility Tool for Financial Aid Administrators

This form, developed collaboratively by the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), is to be completed by a college financial aid administrator (FAA) who is evaluating a student’s eligibility for independent student status. It provides guidance to assist FAAs in making a… Read more »

Homeless & Low-Income Student Resource Guide

Figuring out how to pay for college is a challenge for any student, but for those coming from homeless or low-income situations, this may seem like a barrier that’s nearly impossible to overcome. This guide includes resources to cover extra expenses of school such as housing, text books, medical care and more. Click here to… Read more »

Low Income Solutions Guidebook for Students

Coming from a low income situation as a young adult presents a plethora of hurdles, especially when it comes to completing a college education. The incentive to stay in college becomes slim to none when there is a lack of funds and resources readily available. Everyone deserves an opportunity to achieve an education on an… Read more »

Income tax and the FAFSA for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

The obligation and/or choice to file a tax return is completely separate from the FAFSA. For the FAFSA, youth should simply answer question 33 (and, if necessary, questions 34-38) truthfully. Also, the answer to question 33 should have no effect on the answers to Step Three of the FAFSA, in particular questions 58-60. Again, youth should answer those questions honestly and seek the appropriate verification.

Avoiding Common FAFSA Errors

This chart lists the most common errors many students, including homeless students and students coming out of foster care, make when completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).These errors stop the processing of the application and delay the disbursement of funds students need to pay college expenses. The right-hand column provides suggestions for avoiding these mistakes.

FAFSA Application and Verification Guide Excerpt: Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (Glossary)

A financial aid administrator can also determine if a student is an unaccompanied youth who is either homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless. It is important to examine students’ living situations and claims on a case-by-case basis. If a student does not have and cannot get documentation from any of the authorities given on page 26 of the Application and Verification Guide, you must deter-mine if she is an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

Helping Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Access College Financial Aid (FAFSA Brief)

McKinney-Vento school district liaisons, service providers, and unaccompanied homeless youth should work with financial aid administrators to have unaccompanied youth designated as independent. In addition, unaccompanied youth may need assistance overcoming common barriers that students face in trying to fill out the FAFSA, such as not having all the documents they need, not knowing how to fill out the form, and being overwhelmed by the amount of information the application requests.

McKinney-Vento Identification Checklist for School Counselors: FAFSA Round Up Week

How can school counselors help identify McKinney-Vento students?

McKinney-Vento students who are “unaccompanied” (not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian) are automatically eligible to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as independent students, meaning they do not have to provide a parental income information or signature. However, unaccompanied youth must be verified as such by a school district McKinney-Vento liaison or director of certain shelters or youth programs. It is critical that high school counselors know which students are eligible when they complete the FAFSA and help those students receive proper verification from the liaison.

FAFSA Application and Verification Guide (AVG)

The AVG provides information to college financial aid administrators and counselors who help students with the process of seeking federal student aid for post-secondary education. Unaccompanied homeless youth (UHY) are considered independent students for purposes of applying for federal student aid. This means that UHY do not need to include a parent signature or information… Read more »

Supporting College Completion for Students Experiencing Homelessness

Best Practices in Homeless Education Brief Series
Supporting College Completion for Students Experiencing Homelessness

This CCRAA provision has helped to ensure that unaccompanied homeless youth have access to the financial support necessary to pay for college.  This issue brief explores how several colleges are supporting their homeless student populations with the intention of spotlighting promising practices that may be replicated at other postsecondary institutions across the country.

Unaccompanied Youth Toolkits

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY)has developed three unaccompanied youth toolkits. Each Toolkit contains a wealth of information about supporting unaccompanied youth in school and out, with a special focus on helping unaccompanied youth complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when applying for aid for higher education.

The Toolkits consist of 1-2 page briefs on a variety of topics, including:

  • Protocol for Enrolling Unaccompanied Youth in School: Whom Do We Call?
  • Unaccompanied Youth Identification Checklist and Tools to launch an identification event in schools and shelters (“MV-FAFSA Week”)
  • The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act Basics
  • FAFSA Basics and Practical Tips
  • Access to Services Tip Sheets (Medicaid, TANF, Social Security, SNAP, shelter)

Each Toolkit is designed for a special audience that often does not receive the information they need to be full partners in serving unaccompanied youth.
Click on the links below to access the each of the toolkits:

High School Counselors and McKinney-Vento Liaisons
Shelters and Service Providers
College and University Financial Aid Administrators

College on a Budget: Smart Tips for Saving Money

This College Affordability Guide and website provides information on financial assistance programs sponsored by the government and community organizations that can help lighten your worries about your college debt load. What’s more, there may be strategies that you haven’t yet considered—selling textbooks, visiting the dental school, using a Zipcar—for cutting costs. Hundreds of options are offered that will help you control your living expenses. Click here to access the site.