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The FAFSA: Bridging the Divide: Challenges for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

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Marcal Graham, Ed.D University of Maryland Educational Opportunity Center (UM-EOC) – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The FAFSA: Bridging the Divide: Challenges for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth


1
The FAFSA Bridging the DivideChallenges for
Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
  • Marcal Graham, Ed.D
  • University of Maryland Educational Opportunity
    Center (UM-EOC)

2
UM-EOC Who are we?
  • UM-EOC is one of few TRIO programs based in the
    community situated in Prince Georges County,
    Maryland.
  • Mission Inform and assist adults interested in
    enrolling in and pursuing post-secondary
    education options and opportunities by providing
    admissions and financial aid applications,
    advice, counseling and related services.
  • Target population Adults 19 and older who are
    low income and first generation potential college
    students, veterans, and individuals who reside in
    on of the targeted communities in Prince Georges
    County.
  • UM-EOC has been around for 16 years.

3
UM-EOC Helping Families and Students with the
FAFSA
  • UM-EOC conducts extensive outreach in various
    communities in Prince Georges County.
  • Partnership with various social agencies in the
    county and PGCLS (Prince Georges County Library
    System) has made UM-EOC even more aware of the
    plight of homeless students in the county because
    of obvious financial limitations and living
    conditions. Sometimes we get referrals from other
    partnering organizations to our office, but you
    must go to areas homeless students frequent which
    happen to be libraries.

4
FAFSA The Needs of Students
  • The Federal Pell Grant Program provides
    need-based grants to low-income undergraduate
    students.
  • Submitting the Free Application for Federal
    Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1st deadline is
    critical to students trying to pay for college.
  • The FAFSA is the form required of any student
    seeking federal financial aid, including student
    grants, work study, and loans. The application
    can also be used to apply for most state and some
    private financial aid. (www.fafsa.ed.gov)

5
FAFSA Eligibility
  • All students are eligible to apply for student
    financial assistance.
  • Students must apply each year in order to be
    considered for financial aid!!
  • Many students do not apply for financial aid
    because they believe that they are not eligible,
    or do not understand how to fill out necessary
    information on the FAFSA.
  • You can complete the FAFSA online. FAFSA
    information should be completed based on the
    information of the parent you lived with the most
    during the last 12 months.

6
FAFSA Dependency
  • If you are considered dependent, then your
    parent/s will need to have completed their tax
    information from the previous year in order to
    fill out information on the FAFSA.
  • If parents are unable to provide this
    information, complete as much of the FAFSA as
    possible, it will guide them to a drop-down menu
    that will say will file so continue filling out
    the FAFSA document.

7
FAFSA Classification as Independent
  • Under the federal definition, an independent
    student is one who meets at least one of the
    following conditions
  • Is 24 years old
  • Is a veteran of U.S. Armed Forces
  • Is an orphan or a ward of the court
  • Had legal dependents other than a spouse
  • Is married
  • Is a graduate or professional student
  • Was in foster care at age 13
  • Is homeless or an Unaccompanied Minor as
    certified by an official government agency

8
FAFSA and Homeless designation
  • The language on the FAFSA for those who fit the
    criteria for being homeless, at any time on or
    after July 1, 2014, were you determined to be an
    unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were
    self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as
    determined by a) your high school or district
    homeless liaison, b) the director of an emergency
    shelter or transitional housing program funded by
    the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
    Development, or c) the director of a runaway or
    homeless youth basic center or transitional
    living program. Answer yes or no
    (Studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/filling-out/dependency)

9
What happens to students missing the designation?
  • According to the FAFSA, if you do not have a
    determination that you are homeless, but you
    believe you are an unaccompanied youth who is
    homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being
    homeless, answer no to the FAFSA questions
    concerning being homeless. Then contact your
    financial aid office. (studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa).

10
Historical Context McKinney-Vento Homeless
Assistance Act
  • Each state educational agency shall ensure that
    each child of a homeless individual and each
    homeless youth has equal access to the same free,
    appropriate public education including preschool,
    as provided to other children and youth.
    (Subtitle B-Education for Homeless Children
    Youths, Section 721)
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act guarantees
    rights and services for homeless youth who are
    endanger of dropping out or school failure.

11
What does Unaccompanied homeless youth mean?
  • Under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act,
    an unaccompanied youth is, a youth not in the
    physical custody of a parent or guardian. This
    means that the youth is not living with a parent
    or guardian, includes youth who are residing with
    a caregiver who does not have legal guardianship
    and youth are living on their own. (National
    Center for Homeless Education at Serve, page 1).
  • Homeless children or youth are individuals who
    lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime
    residence, and not be in the physical custody of
    a parent or guardian.
  • (McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act)

12
McKinney-Vento Act Contd
  • In the law, Subtitle B of title VII of the
    McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act
    (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq) in the area of
    comparable service, each homeless child or
    youth to be assisted under this subtitle shall be
    provided services comparable to services offered
    to other students in school selected under
    paragraph (3).

13
FAFSA Terms Denoting Homeless Students
  • Homeless Lack fixed, regular, and adequate
    housing.
  • Self-supporting When a student pays for his own
    living expenses including fixed, regular, and
    adequate living.
  • Unaccompanied When a student is not living in
    the physical custody of a parent or guardian.

14
FAFSA Homeless Students
  • According to FAFSAs Application and Verification
    Guide, A student is considered homeless if he
    lacks a fixed, regular and adequate housing. It
    includes temporary living with other people
    because they had nowhere to go living in
    substandard housing, living in motels, emergency
    or transitional shelters, abandoned buildings,
    camping grounds, cars, parks, living in dorms if
    the student would otherwise be homeless.

15
Homeless Determination
  • Documentation by recognized third party along
    with written documentation by student done on a
    case by case basis.
  • Who makes this determination?
  • School district homeless liaison/advocates
  • State homeless education coordinator
  • Public Private Shelter Providers
  • College Access Programs (TRIO and GearUp)
  • High School Counselors

16
Local Homeless Education Liaisons
  • Under the McKinney-Vento Act, every school must
    appoint a local homeless education liaison to
    serve as the key homeless education contact in
    the district.
  • The local liaison monitors the implementation of
    the McKinney-Vento Act within the district
    ensuring that eligible children are indentified
    and provided with rights and services to which
    they are entitled (National Center for Homeless
    Education).

17
High School Counselors, Advocates, Liasions
  • Prince Georges County Public Schools (PGCPS)
    have professionals onsite that assist high
    counselors. In addition, they conduct home visits
    to make determinations on the status of
    students. 
  • These individuals are called PPW's (Pupil
    Personnel Workers) and their jobs are similar to
    social workers who monitor the needs of those
    individual homeless students who are having
    difficulty with attendance, appearance, grades
    and behaviors. 
  •  

18
Homeless Students Transitional Housing
  • What many transitional facilities provide in
    Prince Georges County
  • Objective is 1)Housing Stabilization,
    2)Employment, 3)Transition to Permanent
  • Housing Counseling Placement
  • Substance Abuse, Mental Health, Medical/Dental
    Counseling
  • Employment and Education Training Services
  • Life Skills
  • Financial Management
  • Follow-Up Counseling

19
Transitional Housing Programs in DC-Metro Area
  • Most transitional housing programs try to provide
    a safe structured living environment and
    resources for homeless individuals.
  • Many require you to be alcohol and drug free for
    at least 90 days.
  • Must not have any active warrants and not
    registered as a sex offender.
  • Most programs have a maximum time of stay not to
    exceed 24 months.

20
FAFSA and Hurdles for Homeless Students
  • Are homeless students in the right mindset
    (i.e. ask questions and follow-through) to seek
    out help for the FAFSA? Can they rise above the
    stigma?
  • Lack of access to school records and other
    paperwork may be an issue.
  • Difficulty accumulating credits due to school
    mobility
  • What is the level of FAFSA assistance (i.e. high
    counselors and advocates) for homeless students
    at high and college level?
  • Lack of support from a caring adult and basic
    needs being met (i.e. hunger, fatigue, poor
    health).
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