Youth experiencing homelessness and youth from foster care face unique barriers to accessing and completing higher education. Lack of family and supports, coupled with histories of neglect, abuse, trauma, mobility, and deep poverty, create roadblocks to their path to and through post-secondary education. Yet higher education is their best opportunity for economic independence and healthier lives.

On 9/12/2017, two bills were introduced in Congress to help homeless and foster youth transition successfully to higher education and receive the financial aid and other supports they need to complete their degrees.

The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act (HEASHFY) 
S.1795/H.R. 3740

Read the Congressional Press Release 

The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act (HEASHFY), is sponsored by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in the U.S. Senate, and by U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark (D-5th/MA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-8th-IL/), and Don Young (R At Large/AK) in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation amends the Higher Education Act and improves outreach, resources, and policies for homeless and foster youth by:

  • Streamline the application and verification process for financial aid for homeless unaccompanied youth;
  • Have colleges and universities designate single points of contact to assist homeless and foster youth access and complete higher education and connect them with resources;
  • Have colleges and universities develop a plan to assist homeless and foster youth to access housing resources during and between academic terms

The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act of 2017 (FSHEA)
S. 1792/H.R. 3742

Read the Congressional Press Release

In addition, The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act of 2017, sponsored by U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis (D-7th/IL) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and by U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) in the U.S. Senate, authorizes a new grant program in the Higher Education Act administered by the US Department of Education to provide $150 million a year in formula grants to states, tribes, and territories to:

  • Establish or expand transitions between K-12 and higher education for foster and homeless youth, including summer bridge programs, through statewide initiatives; and
  • Develop “institutions of excellence” committed to serving foster and homeless youth from entrance to completion via robust support services and by covering the remaining cost of attendance beyond federal and state grants

ACTION NEEDED:

  1. Urge your Members of Congress to sign on as co-sponsors of both bills. We’ve created two sample letters in Microsoft Word – one for your U.S. Senators, and one for your U.S. Representative. Please download the letters and personalize them with local or state facts, as well as your own perspectives and experiences. Contact information for U.S. Senators may be found here. Contact information for U.S. Representatives may be found here.
  2. If you represent a local, state, or national organization, sign your organization on as a supporter of the bills by filling out this form.

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