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Reaching Out to Higher Education: Creating Networks to Support the College Access and Success of Homeless and Foster Youth. Diana Bowman, Director, NCHE Marcia Weston, Director, College Goal Sunday, YMCA Pam Kies-Lowe, State Coordinator for Homeless Education , MI. Setting the Stage.

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Reaching Out to Higher Education: Creating Networks to Support the College Access and Success of Homeless and Foster Youth

Diana Bowman, Director, NCHE

Marcia Weston, Director, College Goal Sunday, YMCA

Pam Kies-Lowe, State Coordinator for Homeless Education , MI

setting the stage
Setting the Stage
  • Unaccompanied homeless youth (UHY) and former foster youth not on the radar for higher education
  • These youth face many challenges
  • CCRA allows UHY to be considered independent students for filling out the FAFSA
  • Foster youth are able to access benefits through Title 4e
  • Many higher education institutions are unaware of ways to support UHY and former foster youth
  • A number of innovative strategies have been developed to ensure college access and success for these vulnerable youth
  • A statewide network provides foundation for supporting UHY and former foster youth
odds of higher education without support
Odds of Higher Education Without Support

# of Foster Youth Aging Out

100%

70%

65%

50%

10-15%

2-4%

Wolanin, T.R., 2005. Higher education opportunities for foster youth: A primer for policymakers. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Higher Education Policy. http://www.ihep.com/Pubs/PDF/fosteryouth.pdf

obstacles to academic success
Obstacles to Academic Success

Physical and mental health

Finances, financial planning

Poor academic preparation

Wary of adults; asking for help

Lack of accountability to adults/systems

System demands

DHS

Medicaid

Court

Mental Health

Family obligations

Siblings

Death and violence

Strong identity with home community

student support 7 life domains
Student Support: 7 Life Domains

Adapted from:

Casey Family Programs

college cost reduction and access ccra act
College Cost Reduction and Access (CCRA) Act
  • Independent student status (FAFSA) for unaccompanied homeless youth and self-supporting youth at risk of homelessness
  • Apply for aid without parental signature or consideration of parental income
  • Can be verified by:
    • Local liaison
    • RHYA-funded shelter director or designee
    • HUD-funded shelter director or designee
    • College Financial Aid Administrator
ccra act cont
CCRA Act, cont.
  • Uses McKinney-Vento definition of homeless
  • At risk of homelessness: “when a student’s housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate
  • Includes a homeless student fleeing an abusive parent, even if the parent would provide housing and support
  • More information is available at www.serve.org/nche/ibt/higher_ed.php
fafsa questions
FAFSA Questions

56) At any time on or after July 1, 2009, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?

57) At any time on or after July 1, 2009, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?

58) At any time on or after July 1, 2009, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

challenges attaining independent student status
Challenges: Attaining Independent Student Status

What we see:

  • Youth, financial aid offices not aware of changes in FAFSA
  • UHY not identified in high school or did not stay in shelter must be verified by financial aid office
    • Don’t understand the definition
    • Ask unreasonable or inappropriate modes of verification
    • Use “professional judgment”
the financial aid office
The Financial Aid Office
  • First priority: Processing applications
    • Federal (FAFSA)
    • State (state grant programs)
    • Scholarships (local and college-based)
  • Growing number of statutory and regulatory requirements
    • Treatment of benefits; independent status; prior loan debt; auditing and reporting
the financial aid office1
The Financial Aid Office
  • Regulatory changes:
    • Financial aid processing systems
  • Current economic times:
    • Increase in student FAFSA submissions
    • Increase in request for special circumstances
  • Static or reduced budgets:
    • Decrease in financial aid staff resources
    • Decrease in aid dollars
what can we do
What Can We Do?
  • Reach out to the financial aid office
  • Offer to provide information, resources, training on homeless student populations
  • Know the regulations with regard to financial aid for homeless and unaccompanied youth
  • Ask about resources currently on the campus for homeless youth and other underserved populations
  • Assist in developing a statewide network
  • Connect with NCHE and NAEHCY for assistance
on campus support
On-Campus Support
  • Create greater awareness among instructors, staff, and administrators
    • Share NCHE’s brief
    • Solicit campus support (UNC-Asheville)
    • Place articles in newsletters, etc.
    • Add page to school’s website (Loyola)
  • Appoint a single point of contact for homeless students on each campus
  • Use education rights posters and brochures so students who fit the definition can identify themselves
on campus support1
On-Campus Support
  • Coordinate with liaisons for homeless education in nearby school districts
  • Create list of community resources
  • Assign youth a mentor to ensure needs are met
  • Set up a campus clothing closet and food pantry (UCLA)
  • Leave dormitories open over holidays; arrange places for students to stay with faculty, staff, community members
good ideas1
Good Ideas

UNC – Asheville Matrix

Created by Laura Misner, College Foundation of North Carolina

what does that support look like

What Does That Support Look Like?

Seita Scholars Program

the seita scholars program
The Seita Scholars Program

Michigan’s Foster Youth & Higher Education Initiative

A comprehensive effort that involves multiple partnerships across departments and units within WMU, and between WMU and other community constituents, such as child welfare agencies and local colleges

history of seita scholars program
History of Seita Scholars Program

Spring 2007: Statewide Summit Meeting

Summer 2007: Created John Seita Scholarship

Fall 2007 – Spring 2008: Planning Committee and Student Advisory Group

Fall 2008: Welcomed 1st Cohort of 51 Scholars

Fall 2007 – Spring 2009: Program Budget & Plan

Fall 2009: Welcomed 2nd Cohort of 47 Scholars

Dec 2009: Established Seita Scholars Program office on campus

Fall 2010: Welcomed 3rd Cohort of 49 Scholars

Ongoing: Program Development – Best Practice

seita scholars program goals
Seita Scholars Program – Goals

To increase number of youth from foster care earning baccalaureate degrees

To provide youth who age out of foster care and qualify for admission or transfer to WMU a transitional pathway to adulthood through the experience and achievement of undergraduate education

To create a community of scholars among WMU students who have aged out of foster care

seita program components
Seita Program Components
  • Student Outreach and Recruitment
    • WMU recruitment efforts expanded to include youth aging out of foster care and those who have exited the foster care system
  • Student Retention and Well-Being
    • John Seita Scholarship, renewable annually, for each year of undergraduate study
    • Work-study opportunities on campus
    • Year-round campus living (dorms closed for holidays & breaks)
    • Additional services – mentoring, tutoring, counseling, life skills workshops, advocacy, systems navigation help & more
  • Student Career Transition and Graduation
    • Career options and planning
    • Graduation support and planning
    • Transition from school to work and career
john seita scholarship seita scholars program
John Seita Scholarship &Seita Scholars Program

Seita Scholarship Eligibility

Admitted to Western Michigan University

Qualified for Educ. Training Voucher Program in their state

Submit FAFSA by March 1st

Apply to WMU by May 1st (and be accepted; freshman & transfers may apply)

Abide by Scholarship Agreement

Reside on campus & abide by WMU codes for campus living

Maintain full-time student status

Take a seminar course for Seita Scholars

Maintain satisfactory academic progress

Participate in academic monitoring

Meet with academic advisor & Campus Coaches

Attend scheduled Seita Program events

Pay bills on time (income from on campus work-study)

Scholarship Package -3 main components to achieve minimal or no student loans

  • Tuition Scholarship
  • State Aid (ETV)
  • Financial Aid Grants
seita scholars retention
Seita Scholars – Retention

NOTE: 2 out of 3 Seita Scholars who “stepped out” remain in contact with the program, and are actively seeking to return to school.

key services outreach
Key Services: OUTREACH

WMU Admissions form identifies applicants from foster care

Work with caseworkers, foster parents and others to plan move to college

Campus Coaches call/visit admitted students in home communities in summer

Customized Campus Tours

Provide information and resources about college to foster youth and assist with financial aid and application process

Scholarship Package -3 main components to achieve minimal or no student loans

Tuition Scholarship

State Aid (ETV)

Financial Aid Grants

critical retention services
Critical Retention Services

Social Engagement

Academic Support

Physical & Mental Health

Work Study

key services retention
Key Services: RETENTION

Campus Coaches

24 hour on call support

DHS Liaison

Student care packages

Welcome, exams, holidays

Campus housing over semester breaks

Budgeting and financial planning

Emergency funds

Work study, employee skill development

Trauma-informed Learning Assessments

Volunteer coordination

Academic support & monitoring

Foster Youth and Higher Education Student Organization

Leadership development; career mentoring

Support with other systems

Courts

Human services

Medicaid

Public assistance

Specialized Classes

First year seminar

Learning Styles & Strategies

community identity retention
Community & Identity: RETENTION

A Community

of Scholars

1st Cohort 2008-09 (n=51)

2nd Cohort 2009-10 (n=47)

key services graduation
Key Services: GRADUATION

Campus Coaches

24 hour on call support

Student Preparation

Driver License; rental deposits; savings

Budgeting and financial planning

Emergency funds

Volunteer Coordination

Leadership development

Career mentoring and career transitioning

seita spin offs in michigan
Seita “Spin-Offs” in Michigan

Michigan State University

University of Michigan

Acquinas College (private college)

University of Phoenix

Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) - focused ondramatically increasing MI college participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income and first-generation college students of all ages http://www.micollegeaccess.org

Even HARVARD is offering FREE TUITION for families earning less than $40,000! http://www.fao.fas.harvard.edu

future directions
Future Directions

Colleges have a role in serving homeless and foster care students

WMU is developing a program model

Lessons learned at WMU can inform policy and practice targeting foster youth and homeless populations

Fields: child welfare, health care, education

Human Service, Health, and Educational institutions can partner to better serve homeless youth and foster youth who age out of foster care

current challenges
Current Challenges

Students

Academic preparation

Social transition

Engagement in learning

Health Care Issues

Medicaid ends on 21st birthday

Physical, dental, mental & emotional health needs

Child Welfare Issues

Preparation/Academic readiness

Caseworker continuity

Continued financial support

Higher Education Issues

Communication with child welfare agencies

Interrupted educational trajectories

Preparation for graduation and career transition

resources
Resources
  • US Department of Education's Application and Verification Guide http://www.ifap.ed.gov/ fsahandbook/attachments/0910AVG.pdf
  • Casey Family Programs http://www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/ProvidingEffectiveFinancialAid.htm
  • Loyola University website http://www.loyno.edu/financialaid/homeless-students
  • UCLA Economic Crisis Response Team http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128778321
  • Western Michigan University’s Seita Scholars Program http://www.wmich.edu/fyit
  • Michigan Dept. of Human Services, Foster Youth in Transition http://www.michigan.gov/fyit
  • 2010 American Council on Education & Lumina Foundation for Education http://knowhow2go.org
contact information
Contact Information
  • Diana Bowman, NCHE, 336.315.7453, dbowman@serve.org
  • Marcia Weston, YMCA, 336.617.0535, Marcia Weston@YMCA.net
  • Pam Kies-Lowe, Michigan Department of Education, 517.241.1162, Kies-LoweP@michigan.gov