GAO Report on Access to College Financial Aid for Homeless & Foster Youth
Access to Financial Aid for College is Critical to Homeless and Foster Care Youth
The Government Accountability Office’s report, “.Actions Needed to Improve Access to Federal Financial Assistance for Homeless and Foster Youth” used college enrollment data from 2011-2012 and 2013-2014,as well as completion data from 2009, to study access to college financial aid for homeless and foster care youth.
- “A lower percentage of youth who have been in foster care enroll in and complete college compared to other youth, but little is known about homeless youth.
- Education data from 2009 (the latest available) indicate that a lower percentage of foster youth complete a bachelor’s degree within 6 years (14 percent) compared to other students (31 percent).
- Education data also show that homeless and foster youth who attend college pursue an associate’s degree to a greater extent than other students.
- Homeless and foster youth experience challenges, such as weak academic foundations, limited family support, and lack of awareness of available financial resources, making it harder for them to pursue college, according to stakeholders GAO interviewed.
- With few adults in their lives, homeless and foster youth in GAO discussion groups said it is hard to navigate complex college application and financial aid processes.
- Education officials and other stakeholders told GAO that these youth are often not aware of financial resources for college. Federal law requires Education to provide accessible information on financial aid, but its website has limited information on college resources directed towards homeless and foster youth. The lack of easily accessible and tailored information can make it difficult for these youth to learn about and obtain federal assistance for college.
- Burdensome program rules can make it more difficult for unaccompanied homeless youth (those not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian) and older foster youth to obtain federal financial assistance for college.”
To read the full report, click here the attache link to access the report in PDF GAO Report on Homeless and Foster Youth 2016.