Answer: Per federal guidance, the determination process must focus only on whether a youth meets the legal definition of being unaccompanied and homeless, or at risk of being homelessness, rather than the reasons for the applicant’s homelessness. See DCL ID: GEN-15-16 from the US Department of Education. “FAAs should limit their inquiry to whether the applicant is an unaccompanied youth who is homeless, or at risk of being homeless, rather than the reasons for the applicant’s homelessness.” Commonly, youth homelessness situations are much more complex than they appear, or even than what students or families share. Students often do not want to share personal details of the situation, they may be trying to protect their parents or siblings, or they worry about stigma. This is why the law is clear that the focus is on the objective facts of the living situation and the legal definition of homelessness, rather than subjective and often incomplete understandings of the reasons behind the homelessness.
For the FAFSA, is it true that the reason a student is couch-surfing does not matter but the fact they are is what we need to document? We could have a student that didn’t want to live under their parent’s rules and decide to leave the home. Does this change the situation or is this not something we need to focus on?
Sep 9, 2019 | Q and A