(Washington, D.C.) – Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Rob Portman (R-OH), and Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Don Young (R-AK) reintroduced the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act today to help homeless and foster students get the support they need to access and succeed in higher education.
“Too many students don’t know where they will get their next meal or where they will sleep tonight, but they know that an education is their best shot at a brighter future,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5). “Our bill will help students who face unique and significant challenges chart their path to a successful future by providing them basic supports like housing and financial aid.”
“Students around the country are struggling to attend, afford, and succeed in higher education, and fewer students have a more difficult time than our homeless and foster students,” said Senator Murray. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to break down barriers and provide support for homeless and foster youth seeking opportunities in higher education—and I’m committed to ensuring every student has the support they need to succeed in college as we work to comprehensively reauthorize the Higher Education Act.”
“Kids in foster care face an uphill battle when they pursue higher education. It is in all of our interests to help these kids who have aged out of the foster care system or have experienced homelessness and ensure that services for them are a priority in existing federal programs,” said Senator Portman. “I’m proud to reintroduce this common-sense legislation to remove unnecessary barriers and make college more affordable for these youth. It will support college retention, and greater success in higher education to allow these youth people to graduate, pursue their dreams, and achieve their God-given potential.”
The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act asks colleges and universities to work with the federal government to improve outreach to and resources for homeless and foster youth, including streamlining the FAFSA, easing the burden of verification, clarifying eligibility for financial aid, helping students access housing options between terms, and designating liaisons to help provide services for these vulnerable students. It also requires the U.S. Department of Education to help resolve questions about a student’s independence, publish more transparent data on the number of homeless and foster youth served, and ensure its grant programs identify, recruit and prepare homeless and foster students for college. The bill also provides in-state tuition rates for those students who haven’t had stable residency.
“Access to higher education should be available to each and every student that has the desire and determination to do so, regardless of their background or their means,” said Congressman Don Young. “As a former teacher and proud grandfather of children who joined my family through the foster system, I strongly believe in the work being done through this legislation to empower our nation’s youth with the knowledge and skills to live up to their potential. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation is only one small step is better serving our homeless and foster youth, but certainly an important one to ensuring they can aspire to any level of education and success.”
Text of the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act can be found HERE.
Fact sheet on the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act can be found HERE.
National organizations endorsing the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act include: Alliance for Excellent Education, American Psychological Association, American School Counselor Association, Center for Law and Social Policy, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Advocacy Institute, Children’s Defense Fund, Education Reform Now Advocacy, Family Focused Treatment Association, Family Promise, First Focus Campaign for Children, Girls Inc., Healthy Teen Network, Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, Juvenile Law Center, National Association of Counsel for Children, National Association of Social Workers , National Center on Adoption and Permanency, National Coalition for the Homeless, National Crittenton, National Education Association, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, National Network for Youth, Partnering for Change , School Social Work Association of America, SchoolHouse Connection, SparkAction, StandUp For Kids, Teach Plus, The Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice and Research, True Colors United, Young Invincibles, and Youth Villages.