Bill Introduced to Help Homeless and Foster Youth Access Higher Education

On November 10, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced S. 1754, the “Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act.” The bill makes changes to the Higher Education Act to address ongoing barriers to higher education for homeless and foster youth.

Among other things, the bill would:

  • Clarify that youth under age 24 who are unaccompanied and homeless are considered independent students so they can receive the financial aid needed to attend college;
  • Remove the unnecessary and burdensome requirement that homeless and foster youth have their status recertified every year for financial aid purposes;
  • Require that higher education institutions create a plan to help homeless and foster students access housing resources during and between school terms; and
  • Require that higher education institutions collaborate with child welfare agencies, homeless service providers, and school district homeless liaisons to identify, reach out to, and recruit homeless and foster youth.

“For many students, higher education can be a ticket to the middle class, so it is vitally important that students from all walks of life have the chance to go to college, further their education, and succeed,” said Senator Murray. “This legislation would remove some of the incredible barriers that homeless and foster students face in accessing higher education, and it will help ensure they have the support they need to pursue their degree.”

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, for which Senator Murray serves as the ranking member. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Al Franken (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have cosponsored the bill.

NLIHC has endorsed the bill along with more than forty national organizations, including the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, and the National Disability Rights Network.

Read Senator Murray’s press release here:

Read the bill text here: