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Navigating FAFSA Completions for Homeless and Foster Youth

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Managing Editor

The 2024-25 FAFSA has been a particular challenge for vulnerable student populations. But for homeless and foster youth, the process has been all the more daunting.

In a presentation provided by SchoolHouse Connection and a pair of financial aid directors, attendees were able to hear a clear analysis of FAFSA data and how it pertains to homeless and foster youth, review the processes for determining unaccompanied homeless youth and youth with experience in foster care, and were provided with recommendations to help these students access financial aid.

Homeless and foster youth have complex needs and often have little to no support filling out the FAFSA. While new provisions from FAFSA Simplification Act have worked to remove barriers, the rollout of the 2024-25 FAFSA has made it even harder for these students to access financial aid and pursue postsecondary education.

In some instances students have been required to relive traumatic experiences due to unnecessary forms. For example, youth who are estranged from their parents, for a variety of reasons, have been of the belief that they need to engage with them in order to obtain personal financial information. In other cases, redundant forms have forced these students to relive and document experiences that have led to their housing instability.

In order to help address common questions impacting this community, SchoolHouse Connection created a designated FAFSA page where attendees can learn the ways in which they can help to ensure that these students are able to access aid.

The presentation also went over seven key changes to the 2024-25 FAFSA that directly impacted homeless and foster youth and how aid administrators can assist students with a rejected FAFSA.

Further, attendees learned how the federal definitions of homeless and foster youth on the FAFSA should be used to ensure that prospective students have access to benefits and protections that can help them better access higher education.


Publication Date: 6/18/2024

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