Community Development, Federal News, Homelessness, Reports and Publications

Barriers Limit Higher Education Access for Youth in Foster Care or Experiencing Homelessness

United States Government Accountability Office

A new United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finds that foster youth and youth experiencing homelessness face many  challenges and barriers in accessing higher education and offers recommendations to alleviate those issues. Using a thorough literature review of college enrollment and completion of this population, the GAO report highlights the policies and program rules that hinder youth from seeking federal supports, such as providing documentation of homelessness and re-verification of homelessness to school’s financial aid office.

The report also outlines how lack of family support, awareness of resources, and academic preparation makes pursuing a college education challenging for a foster youth or a youth experiencing homelessness. According to the report, foster youth and those experiencing homelessness are less likely to attend college when compared to low-income students. Also, a foster youth is less likely to finish college than other students. There is no data on college completion for those experiencing homelessness.

The report provides a list of recommendations to assist foster and unaccompanied homeless youth with enrolling and completing college. One of the recommendations includes a legislative proposal to alleviate the process of homelessness documentation for unaccompanied youth. A student will only have to show proof of homelessness once and not have to re-verify their homelessness status in future applications.

Click here to read the report. 


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