Senators Portman, Murray Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Remove Barriers, Provide Support For Homeless and Foster Students in Higher Education


The Bipartisan Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act Would Ask Colleges and Universities to Improve Outreach to and Resources for Homeless and Foster Students


February 9, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act to remove barriers and provide support to help students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care access and succeed in higher education. Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Kids in foster care, or who have experienced homelessness, face an uphill battle when they pursue higher education. It is in all of our interests to help these kids by ensuring that services for them are a priority in existing federal programs,” said Senator Portman. “This common-sense legislation will remove unnecessary barriers and make college more affordable for these youths, supporting college retention, helping them to graduate, pursue their dreams, and achieve their God-given potential.”

“For students experiencing homelessness or in foster care, getting a higher education can be an uphill battle, filled with challenges affording tuition, unnecessarily complicated financial aid forms, and inaccessible housing resources. It shouldn’t be this way — and we owe it to them to make sure our higher education system supports them,” said Senator Murray. “I am proud to work with Assistant Speaker Clark, Senator Portman, and Congressman Young in reintroducing this critical legislation to provide students with the support and stability they need to succeed. These are common-sense steps we can take right now to make it easier for students experiencing homelessness or in foster care to be successful in higher education, and I’m going to keep fighting to ensure all students can get a quality higher education.”

“Every day, young people experiencing homelessness and in foster care face unbelievable barriers while trying to do their homework, attend classes, and improve their futures,” said Congresswoman Clark. “For the homeless and foster youth who find education as a pathway to stability and success, we cannot allow policies and paperwork to get in their way. Our bill is a simple, common sense way Congress can help students who face unique and significant challenges with accessing information and financial aid to attend college and continue building a better life.”

“Too many young people in Alaska and across our nation experience homelessness or time in the foster care system. We should be doing all we can to expand opportunity and upward mobility for this vulnerable population. Higher education can help open the doors to success, but too often, unique barriers prevent these kids from pursuing education beyond high school. I am proud to help introduce the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act, which would improve student access to financial aid, housing, and other vital college resources. This commonsense approach can support and empower the next generation to reach their full potential. I am grateful for the bipartisan leadership of Assistant Speaker Clark and Senators Murray and Portman on this issue, and call on my colleagues to stand with us on this crucial bill,” said Congressman Young.

The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act asks colleges and universities to work with the federal government to improve outreach to and resources for students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care, including helping students access housing options between terms, and designating liaisons to help provide services for these vulnerable students. It also requires the U.S. Department of Education to publish more transparent data on the number of students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care that are served, and ensure its grant programs identify, recruit, and prepare these students for college. The bill also provides in-state tuition rates for those students who haven’t had stable residency.

National organizations endorsing the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act include: Alliance for Positive Youth Development; Association of Children's Residential & Community services (ACRC); Boys Town; C4 Innovations; Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Center for the Study of Social Policy; Children's Advocacy Institute; Children's Defense Fund; Children's Rights; Family Centered Treatment Foundation; Family Promise; First Focus Campaign for Children; First Star Institute; FosterClub; iFoster; Juvenile Law Center; National Association of Counsel for Children; National Center on Adoption and Permanency; National Coalition for the Homeless; National Crittenton; National Education Association; National Health Care for the Homeless Council; Partners for Our Children at the University of Washington in Seattle; SchoolHouse Connection; Student Housing Advocate Alliance; The Family Focused Treatment Association; The Field Center; The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice; Think of Us; Youth Law Center; and Youth Villages.

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