Biggert Homeless Education Measure Heads to President: Allows unaccompanied homeless youth to receive federal student aid for college
Washington, DC - The House passed a measure today authored by U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) that will give homeless youth the same access to student aid as other students. The Biggert provision was included in the conference report on H.R. 2669, the College Cost Reduction Act, which passed the House by a vote of 292 to 97 and now goes to the President, who is expected to sign it into law.
"Unaccompanied youth often have left home for reasons that are extremely diverse and usually heartbreaking," said Biggert, a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee. "These are the very children who are most in need of financial assistance for college and the least likely to receive it."
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), used to determine a student's eligibility for federal financial aid, requires most students to provide financial information about their parents or guardians. The application also requires the signature of a parent or guardian.
Based on the FAFSA Fix for Homeless Kids Act (H.R. 601) that Biggert introduced in January, the provision included in H.R.2669 addresses these existing barriers by allowing unaccompanied homeless youth to be considered "independent students" upon verification of their living situation by a school district liaison, a shelter director, or a financial aid administrator. As an independent student, an unaccompanied homeless youth would not be required to provide parental income information or a parent signature on their FAFSA form.
"While current FAFSA requirements make sense for most students, they create insurmountable barriers for unaccompanied homeless youth," said Biggert. "The FASFA Fix opens the doors of higher education to some of our nation's most vulnerable youth."
The FAFSA Fix for Homeless Kids Act is one of two bills Biggert has introduced during the 110th Congress designed to remove barriers that prevent homeless youth from attending school. In July, she introduced H.R. 3205, the Homeless Education Improvement Act of 2007, which would reauthorize the successful McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program (EHCYP) in No Child Left Behind.