How Emergency Aid Can Prevent Homelessness Among College Students

Emergency aid programs offer financial resources for students who face an unexpected crisis that could prevent them from completing their academic term. These programs can be helpful for all college students, but they are especially critical for those experiencing homelessness or those who are at risk of becoming homeless. This SchoolHouse Connection brief provides examples of emergency aid programs and offers strategies for streamlining services.

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Never Stop Telling Your Story: 7 Questions with Destiny Dickerson, an SHC Young Leader

Destiny explains, “Having had to silently deal with so many mental health issues and watching others struggle in their own ways, I have developed a passion to want to help those struggling to find inner peace.” Here, Destiny explains how education has been a powerful force in her life–and how she’s compelled to help other students experiencing homelessness be their own best advocates.

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I am trying to help a student who was adopted from a foreign country access financial aid for college. She is now an unaccompanied homeless youth, and she cannot get a copy of her Naturalization Certificate from her parents. She also does not have a passport.

Answer: The student will have to get a replacement copy of her Naturalization Certificate. The application for a replacement Naturalization Certificate is here: https://www.uscis.gov/n-565 She needs to complete that fully.  To avoid the fee, she needs to submit with...

A middle school student, who lived with the custodial parent, lost her permanent housing because parent is in rehab for a period of time. Her non-custodial parent moved to the area and secured adequate housing (in a nearby district), where his daughter is now residing. The non-custodial parent is going to court to gain custody of his daughter. Should this be considered a McKinney-Vento issue?

Answer: This depends on the sequence of events. If the student stayed temporarily with someone when her mother first went into rehab, and then later moved in with her father, then the student was McKinney-Vento eligible when the mother first went into rehab. However,...

We have a McKinney-Vento student who is staying with other people in a second floor apartment, with no elevator. The student has an IEP, and he is in a wheelchair. We are providing a bus to his school of origin, but the family is asking for someone to carry the student between the apartment and the bus. What should we do?

Answer: You could start by connecting with the Special Education Department, as the student has an IEP. It appears that his disability will prevent him from getting to school if no one is able to transport him from the apartment to the bus. Therefore, his IEP team...

I have a question about FAFSA independent student status for a young woman who is not an unaccompanied homeless youth and was never in foster care. Her parents chose to give guardianship to another person in lieu of going through the termination of parental rights process. How can I support this student?

Answer: If the student was never actually in foster care, she won’t qualify as independent for the FAFSA as a former foster youth.  However, students who were in legal guardianship qualify as independent. Was the guardianship legal, with a court document to back it...

If my Head Start program is considered a preschool because my district is the fiscal agent, is the district obligated to provide transportation?

Answer: The McKinney-Vento Act applies to preschools – including Head Start programs – that are funded or administered in whole or in part by local educational agencies. This flowchart helps tease out whether an early childhood program is considered a “preschool”...

Early Childhood

Infants are at greater risk of living in homeless shelters than any other age group in the United States. Early childhood programs prevent the harmful life-long effects of homelessness on education, health and well-being.

PreK - 12

In the 2016-17 school year, public schools identified more than 1.3 million homeless students. Schools provide basic needs, caring adults, stability, normalcy, and the skills to avoid homelessness as adults.

Higher Education

The majority of well-paying jobs created today require education beyond high school. Post-secondary attainment is increasingly necessary to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness, and live a healthy, productive life.

Unaccompanied Youth

Unaccompanied homeless youth are young people experiencing homelessness who are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. 4.2 million youth and young adults experience homelessness each year.

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