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Homeless Higher Education

FAFSA Changes Effective July 1, 2023

Beginning July 1, 2023, unaccompanied homeless youth will no longer have to prove their independent status each academic year. We will provide more information and resources as we approach this date.

Each year, more than 1.5 million young people in the United States experience homelessness. Some of these young people, known as unaccompanied homeless youth, will face the challenges of homelessness while living on their own without the support of a caring adult. Colorado school districts reported a total of 23,089 homeless students, of whom 2,397 were unaccompanied, during the 2017-18 school year.

The State of Colorado believes that education is crucial to our poverty reduction strategy and to breaking the cycle of poverty for our state’s unaccompanied homeless youth. The programs of the Higher Education Act (HEA) assist these youth to graduate from high school, apply for and access postsecondary education, and complete their degrees.

The Colorado Taskforce on Higher Education for Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness was formed to bring together K-12 McKinney-Vento public school district liaisons; higher education financial aid, admissions, and student support services staff; and other public and private partners, such as pre-collegiate agencies, scholarship organizations, and funding partners. In 2009, colleges and universities across Colorado appointed higher education homeless liaisons, or “Single Points of Contact” (SPOCs). These liaisons help youth matriculate into higher education and address academic barriers by waiving application and other fees at higher education institutions when possible; timing housing deposits so that students can pay when they receive financial aid; and connecting students with community and higher education resources, such as financial literacy training, peer support groups, and food banks.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) of 2007 made significant changes to the Free Student Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA), which makes it easier for unaccompanied homeless youth to obtain financial support to pursue their education. This Act allows unaccompanied homeless youth to qualify as independent students for purposes of federal financial aid, as they need not report their parents’ information or have their parents sign the FAFSA.

The McKinney-Vento Program at CDE is committed to seeing Colorado’s unaccompanied homeless youth receive quality K-12 education, graduate from high school, and gain access to and complete higher education. We provide technical support for Colorado school districts and colleges to assure compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance and College Cost Reduction Acts.



CDE State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth

Paula Gumina

National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) 

NCHE is the U.S. Department of Education's technical assistance and information center in the area of homeless education

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP)

NLCHP is a group of lawyers working to prevent and end homelessness by serving as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness.