Last week at the fall workshop, we had a couple of situations presented during the Q&A that we wanted confirmation on. Luckily, Cyekeia Lee, Director of Higher Education Initiatives at NAEHCY, came to the rescue.
Question 1: If a student was determined UHY due to a determination from the homeless shelter director or school liaison when they entered university, is the college then required to complete an interview each subsequent year of enrollment or is the documentation received from the official upon matriculation their first year sufficient for all other years?
The documentation from a school district is only valid for one academic year, so the school districts determination will not matriculate, and the school district cannot make a determination for a subsequent year. Thereafter if a student cannot get a determination of their unaccompanied homeless youth status from any of the other verifiers (if they have not stayed or received services from a HUD or RHYA funded shelter) the Financial Aid Administrator must make a determination of the students unaccompanied homeless youth status. Here is the corresponding excerpt from Chapter 5 of the 2014-15 AVG.
“a. If a student does not have, and cannot get, documentation from any of the authorities given on page 28, you must deter¬mine if she is an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.”
Question 2: Some counselors have received documentation from a high school that was questionable, and the college is hesitant to believe that the high school documentation absolves them of having to probe further. In one example, an FAA stated the student had a fight with their parents and spent one night in their car (the student confirmed with the FA counselor that it was a single night). However, this student had documentation from their school that they were UHY. It’s our understanding that the school must accept the documentation from the HS/homeless liaison, but the concern was that there would be blowback on the college’s part—-is that a valid concern?
According to the AVG verification of a students unaccompanied homeless youth status is not required by a college or university. Excerpt from AVG:
“Verification not required: You are not required to verify the answers to the homeless youth questions unless you have conflicting information. A documented phone call with, or a written statement from, one of the relevant authorities is sufficient verification when needed. It is not conflicting information if you disagree with an authority’s determination that a student is homeless.
If you believe the authority is incorrect or abusing the process, accept his determination but contact the following oversight party, as relevant, to evaluate the authority’s determinations: School district homeless liaison: contact the coordinator of education for homeless children and youth programs of the state’s educational agency. A list of state coordinators can be found at: http://center.serve.org/nche/states/ state_resources.php.”
If a student was homeless on or any time after July 1, of the previous year and the McKinney-Vento Liaison can make a determination of the students McKinney-Vento eligibility status. Often students may have stable housing, then be back on the streets so you don’t want to have students making 10 FAFSA changes. The status can be reviewed each year. However if the FAA’s thinks that the Liaison is abusing the decision they can contact the State Coordinator for Illinois.
Thank you all for your attendance and great questions! Once again, ILASFAA members have demonstrated their care and passion towards working with and provide the best service to students, and your work is appreciated!