Pathways to Partnership: Higher Education

This second “Pathways to Partnership” series is designed to help LEA homeless liaisons and homeless service providers to 1) gain a basic understanding of some important higher education programs, including those programs that have specific requirements on homelessness; and 2) create and sustain higher education partnerships. Connecting youth and young adults who experience homelessness with the appropriate resources will help pave a smoother transition to and through postsecondary education.

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Want to Help Students Experiencing Homelessness Go to College? Take Them There.

By Kylee Fuhr, District Homeless Liaison, St. Lucie Public Schools, Florida. “I was astonished to learn that we had 106 McKinney-Vento seniors registered, but we had never arranged a tour of our local institute of higher education, Indian River State College. I knew I had to figure out a way to get these students interested in college and aware of the benefits of pursuing their undergraduate education…”

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One of our community partners has raised concerns about housing youth in low-income housing funded by the USDA. Are there restrictions on who can be housed in that housing?

Answer: The USDA offers a variety of housing programs, so any restrictions probably would depend on exactly which USDA program is providing the funding for the housing. More information is available...

We have a student who ran away due to conflict/neglect in the home and became McKinney-Vento eligible, and then returned home several months later. Can he still receive free school meals? Can his parent refuse free school meals? Do his McKinney-Vento rights still apply until the end of the school year?

Answer: Automatic eligibility for school meals is part of the Russell School Lunch Act. That law provides continued eligibility for McKinney-Vento students for the rest of the school year and into the first 30 days of the next school year. However, parents do have the...

I’ve been looking for a template to inform parents that they need to contact our office with their address if still in transition when school begins in August. Could you provide some guidance?

Answer: In general, these end-of-year efforts should strive to ensure the integrity of McKinney-Vento eligibility between academic years, but also take into consideration the known mobility and communication difficulties faced by parents and students experiencing...

Does a private college/university have to acknowledge an unaccompanied youth’s homeless status as part of the FAFSA rules/requirements? Do they have to accept a homeless verification form from a McKinney-Vento liaison?

Answer: Yes. Any institution that offers federal financial aid has to follow the same FAFSA rules. So they have to accept a liaison's verification of unaccompanied youth status and treat the student as independent for the FAFSA.

A McKinney-Vento eligible family just arrived in our district to enroll a 7-year old child with autism. We were told he can’t come to school today because there will be a substitute teacher, and he can’t ride the special education bus until he gets evaluated for special education. Shouldn’t the school make accommodations for him?

Answer: Yes. The school should work with the parent to start special education evaluations immediately. The Dept. of Education encourages expedited evaluations for McKinney-Vento students. See this letter. While evaluations are underway, the school can put appropriate...

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 2015-16 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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