Bill would support homeless, foster students in colleges

Bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress on Sept. 12 aims to help homeless and foster youth access and succeed in higher education.

The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act of 2017 asks colleges and universities and the federal government to work together to improve outreach to and resources for homeless and foster youth, by streamlining federal student aid, clarifying eligibility for financial aid, providing housing options between terms, and designating a single point of contact to help provide services for these vulnerable students.

The legislation would require the U.S. Department of Education to help resolve questions about a student’s independence, publish more transparent data on the number of homeless and foster youth served, and ensure its grant programs identify, recruit and prepare homeless and foster students for college. The bill also asks states to grant in-state tuition rates for those students who haven’t had stable residency.

The bill is sponsored by Representatives Don Young, R-Alaska, and Katherine Clark, D-MA, and Senators Patty Murray, D-WA, and Ron Portman, R-OH.

“Access to higher education should be available to each and every student that has the desire and determination to do so, regardless of their background or their means,” said Young.

Similar legislation failed to pass in the previous session of Congress.