Going off to college is an exciting time for most students, you get to leave home, have a new experience and finally be on your own. However for those students that are homeless, this is not the case. They might not ever get to go to college at all, because they cannot afford it. As many of us who have been to college know, it is not cheap to say the least. With tuition, books, housing, and food for expenses, the cost of going to college piles up to be many thousands of dollars.
Due to the severity of poverty that children experiencing homelessness live in, college education would be impossible without government aid. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the application that must be completed in order to receive grants, work study, loans, tuition waivers etc. for college. This application requires the student to file financial papers and information about their parents, which they may be unable to get. Because these students do not receive financial help from their parents, it makes it almost impossible for them to complete the FAFSA.
One exception to this rule is the “independent student.” A student who qualifies as being independent does not have to file financial papers for their parents. In order to be qualified as an “independent student” the student must be an orphan, a ward of the court, a veteran, a graduate student, married, or have a dependent. As someone who is homeless could not be under any of the previous circumstances, they would not be able to qualify as an “independent student.”
This definition of independent is now becoming amended so that it allows unaccompanied youth to qualify as an independent student. Under the help of a financial aid administrator from the college of choice, a student who is experiencing homelessness is able to college. No longer are the days where children who are homeless must remain in the cycle of poverty. They are able to break the cycle by going to college and not becoming a part of another statistic.
“I knew that I didn’t want to be homeless for the rest of my life, and I saw education as the sure path to a more secure future. Hard work does not intimidate; a vacuous future does. To succeed in college is to succeed in life, and never again have to live the way I am living now.” Ashleigh, Formerly Homeless Student