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Homeless Higher Education - Students

If you are living in any of the situations below, apart from your parents and with no financial support from them, you may qualify for additional financial aid and personal support to help you enroll in and pay for college:

  • In a shelter, motel, vehicle or campground.
  • On the street, in an abandoned building, or in anther inadequate accommodation.
  • Doubled-up temporarily with other people because you have nowhere else to live.
  • Supporting yourself, but at risk of losing housing.
  • In the dorm, but with nowhere else to live during school breaks when dorms close.

Read all the following information for help with enrolling in college. The Colorado Department of Education, high schools and colleges in Colorado are here to help you.

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Where can I get more information and help to attend college?

  1. Talk with your counselor if you are currently a high school student, or McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Liaison. List of McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Liaisons.
  2. Each public two and four-year college and private four-year college in Colorado has a designated staff member called the McKinney-Vento Single Point of Contact to assist you with all your questions about that particular college. List of college contacts. Call or email your questions to the person listed at the college you plan to attend.
  3. Call or email the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) helpline at: 1-855-446-2673 (toll free), or
  4. Visit the U.S. Department of Higher Education’s website at :

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Can I get help to pay for college?


You can apply for financial aid in the form of grants, part-time student employment, scholarships and student loans. Financial aid funds can help you pay for college tuition and fees, books, supplies and living expenses (such as housing and meals). These funds come from different sources (i.e. federal government, state governments, individual colleges and private donors). Follow these steps to make sure that you are considered for all types of financial aid that you might qualify for:

  1. Complete and submit an application for the College Opportunity Fund (COF). The state of Colorado provides a stipend to eligible undergraduate students who are residents of Colorado and who attend one of Colorado’s public two year community colleges, four year public colleges or universities or a participating private university in Colorado. The stipend is paid on a per credit hour basis to the institution at which you enroll. The credit-hour stipend amount is determined annually by the state. For example, during the school year of 2012-13, eligible students received $62.00 per credit hour to attend Colorado’s two and four year public colleges. So, if a student registered for 12 credit hours (full-time status) at a college that has two semesters in a school year, they received $744 in COF assistance each semester to help them pay their tuition costs just for being Colorado residents! The on-line application takes about 10 minutes, and you only have to submit it once. This is an excellent benefit to you for just a few minutes of your time.
  2. Complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is required by all colleges to determine your eligibility for grants, part-time student employment, student loans and certain scholarships. The FAFSA takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete. There is a special eligibility section on the FAFSA if you meet the definition of ‘homeless and unaccompanied youth’ status where you can be considered an ‘independent’ student and you do not need your parents’ information or signature. You must complete the FAFSA for every school year that you want to be considered for financial aid.

    You may need to provide documentation of your ‘homeless and unaccompanied youth’ status to the Financial Aid Office at the college(s) that you apply to from one of the following organizations:

  3. Apply for scholarships through the college that you plan to attend and through the free scholarships search engines at the links below. Not all scholarships from colleges and private donors require high grades or test scores. Some scholarships are available for student with certain talents and even those who have overcome difficult situations in their lives. So don’t overlook these valuable forms of financial aid that you do not have to pay back. Almost all scholarships require their own application and have their own deadlines, so you will need to organize your scholarship search and stay on top of it.

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NAEHCY Scholarship Program

Children and youth in homeless situations face numerous barriers to educational success. Deep poverty, high mobility, and school requirements often make attending and succeeding in school a challenge. Despite these challenges, many students who experience homelessness not only graduate from high school, but wish to pursue a college education.

The NAEHCY Scholarship Program was established in 1998.  Each year, they award scholarships to students who have experienced homelessness and who have demonstrated academic achievement.

Give Us Your Poor/Horatio Alger Scholarship

The Horatio Alger Colorado Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to students in the State of Colorado who have exhibited integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity and who aspire to pursue higher education.


A free, general scholarship search engine.

College Board

A free, general scholarship search engine.

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I can't afford to pay for the ACT/SAT test fee, college admission application fee, or college housing deposit. Can I get a waiver for either of these?

Waivers are available for these types of college fees. You will need to apply for them. Follow the appropriate step below to get a waiver application and more information:

  • I am currently enrolled in high school. Talk with your high school counselor or McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Liaison. View a list of McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Liaisons.
  • I am not a high school student. Each public two and four-year college and private four-year college in Colorado has a designated staff member called the McKinney-Vento Single Point of Contact to assist you with all your questions about that particular college. View a list of college contacts. Call or email your questions to the person listed at the college you plan to attend.
  • Information about the fee waivers for the ACT and SAT tests:

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Can I get housing while I am going to college?

Many four-year public and private colleges, and some two-year community colleges, have residence halls where their students can live during the school year. Most colleges also offer meal plans as part of their residence hall accommodations. Financial aid funds may help you cover these housing and meal plan costs in addition to your other college costs. Please see the “Can I get help to pay for college?” question and answer for more information about applying for financial aid. Click here for a list of college contacts.

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Can I take college classes while I am in high school?


Your school district might have programs that allow you to enroll in college classes while you are in high school, and receive college credit if you pass the courses. These programs are called Concurrent Enrollment and ASCENT. Check with you high school counselor for more information.

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Are there higher education resources available if I have been in foster care?

  • You may be eligible for an Education and Training Voucher (ETV), if you have been in foster care after the age of 13.  For more information:
  • If you have been in foster care after the age of 13, you may qualify as an independent student for the purposes of federal financial aid.  The “Confirmation of Foster Care Dependency Form” will assist in completing this process.
  • The Denver Foundation has a higher education scholarship for Foster Care & Emancipating Youth.  It was created to provide educational scholarships for foster care youth who are emancipated or are in the process of preparing to emancipate from the foster care system in Colorado. For more information on the Helen M. McLoraine Scholarship go to:
  • Bridging the Gap is a program that provides transitional housing opportunities for young adults who were in foster care. With the support of Independent Living Coaches and in collaboration with community partners, young adults are connected to supportive services that guide them as they transition to adulthood.  For more information:
  • For more information and resources about Foster Care Education, please visit the CDE Foster Care Education Webpage at:

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