Homeless in college: How do you make it work?


This April 3, 2008 photo provided by William & Mary shows the Wren Building on the campus in Williamsburg, Va. (AP)

For homeless college students, every expense is a mountain to be climbed. The cost of a student ID, books, breakfast, lunch and dinner that many college students take for granted are an almost insurmountable challenge for homeless students seeking an education that is often advertised as one of the only paths to a better life.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators met Tuesday for its annual conference and the challenges facing homeless students were front and center. As Libby Nelson writes:

The number of homeless youth has increased 69 percent in the past two years, to 1.6 million. Some are runaways; others are from chaotic family situations, maintaining contact with parents and siblings but spending the majority of nights on friends’ couches or in cars or mobile homes.

Nelson goes on to report that one of the biggest challenges facing school administrators is getting homeless students to admit they are homeless. But, in many ways, writes Nelson, college is a natural fit for homeless youth, since they are accustomed to communal living and have already faced the challenges of completing high school without a permanent home.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act (PDF) was passed in 2007, and made it easier for financial aid administrators to offer assistance to existing and prospective homeless students. But, what do you think? Could more be done? If so, what?

(Inside Higher Ed)

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