Can a Student Be Considered Homeless Or At Risk Of Homelessness If They Have a Relationship Or Contact With Their Parents? (2024)

This guidance is specific to the 2023-24 award year and later.

Scenario: A student moved into a homeless shelter when the dorms closed for spring break because they missed the deadline to stay on campus. They used that documentation to complete the FAFSA as an independent student even though they have a good relationship with their parents.

Answer: Having a relationship with one’s parents does not disqualify a student from being 1) an unaccompanied homeless youth; or (2) unaccompanied, self-supporting, and at risk of being homeless. In fact, the following circ*mstances do not disqualify a student from being homeless or at risk of homelessness:

  • Being in contact with their parent(s);
  • Being in the legal custody of their parent(s);
  • Providing parental data on the FAFSA; or
  • Listing the parents' address on the FAFSA or other documents.

Regardless of their age and the reason, applicants who are homeless or at risk of homelessness qualify for a homeless youth determination and will be considered independent students on the FAFSA. It does not matter why the student is homeless or at risk of homelessness, so schools should not ask why the student is homeless or at risk of homelessness. While we certainly understand the desire to question why the student does not live with their parents, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has indicated that it is not appropriate for the financial aid administrator (FAA) to question why the student is homeless or does not live with their parents. In other words, it does not matter that the student may be choosing not to live with their parents. It also does not matter if the student is still using the parent's address as their mailing address. It also doesn't matter if the student does not want to go to a homeless shelter or receive help from any source related to homelessness.

The fact that the student has contact with their parent does not necessarily mean that the student would not meet the homeless or at risk of homelessness criterion. For example, a student fleeing an abusive parent and without fixed, regular, and adequate housing may be considered homeless even though the student’s parent would otherwise provide support and a place to live. On the other hand, let's say for example a family lost their home in a house fire and the entire family is homeless. This does not make the student homeless because the student is still accompanied by the parents; the student must also be unaccompanied to be considered homeless or at risk of homelessness for Title IV purposes. The same is true even if the parents still have legal (but not physical) custody of the student.

An FAA should only question the student’s status if conflicting information is present. Otherwise, the FAA should only document the fact that the student is homeless or at risk of homelessness for Title IV purposes according to the following definitions:

  • Homeless children and youths: Section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (McKinney-Vento) [42 U.S.C. 11434a], “homeless children and youths” are defined as “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” The term includes:
    • Children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;
    • Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;
    • Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
    • Migratory children who qualify as homeless because the children are living in circ*mstances described above.
  • Unaccompanied youth: McKinney-Vento further defines the term “unaccompanied youth” as “youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.” To be considered an unaccompanied homeless youth, an individual must meet both of these definitions.
  • At risk of being homeless: This occurs a student’s housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate, such as a student who is being evicted or has been asked to leave their current residence and has been unable to find fixed, regular, and adequate housing.
  • Self-supporting: This occurs when a student pays for his or her own living expenses, which includes paying for fixed, regular, and adequate housing.

If the student does not have a determination from one of the entities listed below, you, the FAA, must make the determination. The FAA must use theirbest judgment to determine only whether the student is homeless or an unaccompanied youth at risk of being homeless. NASFAA cannot make this determination on the FAA's behalf, so they should follow the guidance under "Unaccompanied Homeless Youth" in Chapter 5 of the Application and Verification Guide (AVG) volume of the FSA Handbook, as well as in and Dear Colleague Letter GEN-23-06.

Remember that, if the student already has a determination of homelessness or at risk of homelessness from one of the following authorities, the school must accept thatdetermination and cannot request additional documentation or statements unless there is conflicting information in the information that is provided to the school:

  • A local educational agency homeless liaison, as designated by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 USC11432(g)(1)(J)(ii))), or a designee of the liaison;
  • The director or designee of an emergency or transitional shelter, street outreach program, homeless youth drop-in center, or other program serving individuals who are experiencing homelessness;
  • The director or designee of a program funded under subtitle B of title IV of McKinney-Vento (relating to emergency shelter grants) (42 U.S.C. 11371 et seq.);
  • The director or designee of a Federal TRIO program or a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate program (GEAR UP) grant; or
  • An FAAat another institution who documented the student’s circ*mstance in the same or a prior award year.

Note:Effective with the 2023-24 award year, any student determined to be independent due to homelessness for a preceding award year shall be presumed to be independent for each subsequent award year at the same institution, unless the student indicates a change in circ*mstances or unless conflicting information exists in the student's file. ReferenceSection 479A(c)(2)(D)(iv) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, [20 USC 1087TT]. Given these new provisions, FAAsshould not need to obtain documentation to confirm a student’s status from year to year.

Tools: Refer to the following tools to assist with this student population:

Student Aid Reference Desk: For additional information, try the Student Aid Reference Desk. It is a central hub of all the important financial aid resources you need with direct links to legislation, regulation, Dear Colleague Letters, and other ED and NASFAA references. It is updated on a rolling basis with the latest news and changes.

AskRegs Q&As represent NASFAA's understanding of regulatory and compliance issues. They are FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY. While NASFAA believes AskRegs Q&As are accurate and factual, they have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). If you should need written confirmation of AskRegs information for audit or program review purposes, please contact yourED School Participation Division. NASFAA shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein; nor for incidental or consequential damages resulting from the furnishing, performance, or use of this material.

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Can a Student Be Considered Homeless Or At Risk Of Homelessness If They Have a Relationship Or Contact With Their Parents? (2024)

FAQs

Can a Student Be Considered Homeless Or At Risk Of Homelessness If They Have a Relationship Or Contact With Their Parents? ›

Students are homeless for the purpose of school enrollment when they lack fixed, regular, and adequate residence. The most common example of when students may be homeless is when they, with or without their family, are temporarily living with friends or extended family because they do not have their own housing.

Are you considered homeless if you live with your parents? ›

This does not make the student homeless because the student is still accompanied by the parents; the student must also be unaccompanied to be considered homeless or at risk of homelessness for Title IV purposes. The same is true even if the parents still have legal (but not physical) custody of the student.

What is the definition of at risk of being homeless? ›

(1) At risk of homelessness The term “at risk of homelessness” means, with respect to an individual or family, that the individual or family— (A) has income below 30 percent of median income for the geographic area; (B) has insufficient resources immediately available to attain housing stability; and (C) (i) has moved ...

What does "at risk of being homeless" mean on FAFSA? ›

At risk of being homeless means the student's housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate. For example, the student is being evicted or being asked to leave their current residence and is unable to find fixed, regular, and adequate housing.

What is relative homelessness? ›

RELATIVE HOMELESSNESS

People living in spaces that do not meet basic health and safety.

What is the definition of literally homeless? ›

Individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning: Has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation; or.

What factors define homelessness? ›

There are social causes of homelessness, such as a lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment; and life events which push people into homelessness. People are forced into homelessness when they leave prison, care or the army with no home to go to.

What does it mean to be self-supporting and at risk of homelessness? ›

A student who is “self-supporting and at risk of homelessness” is a student who pays for her own living expenses, however the student's housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate, for example, a student who is being evicted and has been unable to find fixed, regular, and adequate housing.

What is situational homelessness? ›

Situational Homelessness

These individuals are referred to as "situationally" or "temporarily" homeless, which generally means that their state of being without a home is temporary and can be resolved as a specific situation in their life is addressed.

How do you classify homeless? ›

Individuals and families are considered homeless if they do not have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence — for example, if they are living in a shelter, vehicle, or other places not meant for habitation.

How does the US government define homeless? ›

The federal government defines "homelessness" as a condition in which an individual or family lacks a fixed, regular, nighttime residence; resides in a public or private residence that is not designed or intended to be a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; lives in a supervised shelter designated to ...

What is the difference of homeless and homelessness? ›

When we use the term “homeless,” we're implying that there is no hope for change. But when we say someone is currently “experiencing homelessness,” we're implying that it's something they won't experience forever.

How does homelessness affect a student? ›

Homelessness has far-reaching effects on a child's ability to learn. The stress of being homeless can interfere with a child's ability to focus at school and keep up with their studies. Homeless children also tend to miss a lot of school, which can lead to them falling behind and not reaching their full potential.

What is the federal definition of at risk of homelessness? ›

(1) At risk of homelessness The term “at risk of homelessness” means, with respect to an individual or family, that the individual or family— (A) has income below 30 percent of median income for the geographic area; (B) has insufficient resources immediately available to attain housing stability; and (C) (i) has moved ...

What does risk of being homeless mean? ›

At Risk of Homelessness

Exhibit one or more risk factors of homelessness, including recent housing instability or exiting a publicly funded institution or system of care such as foster care or a mental health facility.

What defines a homeless person? ›

The federal government defines "homelessness" as a condition in which an individual or family lacks a fixed, regular, nighttime residence; resides in a public or private residence that is not designed or intended to be a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; lives in a supervised shelter designated to ...

How do you know if you will be homeless? ›

Potential Warning Signs of Homelessness
  1. Attendance at many different schools.
  2. Lack of personal records needed to enroll.
  3. Inability to pay fees.
  4. Gaps in skill development.
  5. Mistaken diagnosis of abilities.
  6. Poor organizational skills.
  7. Poor ability to conceptualize.

What is the VA definition of homelessness? ›

This legislation defines “homeless,” “homeless individual,” and “homeless person” as any of the following: An individual or family without a full-time or adequate nighttime residence.

What is the homeless count in California? ›

The 2023 PIT count released in December estimated that more than 180,000 people were experiencing homelessness in our state—up 6% from the previous count.

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