The United States recently set an depressing record when the number of homeless students across the country reached an all-time high last year. More than 1.1 million students in preschool or K-12 were homeless during the 2011–12 school year, fully 2 percent of all students in the nation.
In response, Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (WA), Mary Landrieu (LA), and Tammy Baldwin (WI) introduced the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act on Thursday in an effort to help homeless students be able to afford and attend college.
Currently, there are many hurdles that are unique to homeless youth that make it more difficult both to get to college and to stay afloat once they’re there. Many have difficulty establishing residency in order to qualify for in-state tuition, and they must have their status as independent students without parental support re-determined every year. This bill would remove those barriers, providing in-state tuition for homeless and foster youth and allowing their unaccompanied status to be set in perpetuity.
In addition, the bill would help homeless and foster youth find housing both during the school year and between terms. And it would instruct the General Accounting Office to conduct more research on education trends among homeless and foster students so further outreach can be provided.