Additional Resources for Homeless College Students

As we began discussing last week, the homeless college student population is a growing concern in America, with the number of students lacking “fixed, regular and adequate housing” rising by 75 percent in the last three years alone. This week, we’re going to discuss some of the options available for these students when it comes to funding their education, as well as highlighting services other students might not consider, but could be greatly beneficial.


Scholarships can make a huge difference in whether students can afford to go to college or not, but for students who are homeless or at-risk for becoming homeless, scholarships may be especially crucial. Thankfully, there are a lot of individuals and foundations that want to help this growing demographic. Here’s our round-up of the top scholarships.

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and YouthEach year, NAEHCY provides at least two $2,000 scholarships to students who are currently homeless or have been homeless while completing their K-12 educations.

Horatio Alger AssociationIn cooperation with the Give Us Your Poor Organization, HAA awards $1,000 scholarships annually to low-income college students.

Chicago Coalition for the HomelessThis organization awards renewable $2,5000 scholarships to homeless college students within Chicago and suburban schools. Don’t live in Chicago? Check to see if there’s a local program in your area.

Pride FoundationThese annual scholarships are open to LGBTQ students who have either faced homelessness, poverty, isolation due to geography or who are aging out of foster care.

Campus Services

So you found funding to fulfill your dreams of attending college, but now what? What does the day-to-day look like? While homeless students can take advantage of school dorms and residence halls, what about summers and holidays when these spaces are typically closed? Or what if you don’t have enough money left over for food after buying all of your books? Enter campus services. The following list highlights just a few of the innovative resources prospective students should look for when scoping out schools.

Year-Round Housing Solutions: While few colleges have solved this problem, some are starting to figure it out. UCLA is a great example of a large institution trying to answer the question of where homeless students can go when classes are out. Their solution? The Bruin Shelter created in 2014. Even if a school doesn’t advertise such accommodations, it’s worth asking if they have any provisions available.

Access to Shower Facilities: In 2016, California’s governor signed a bill into law requiring all community colleges to provide access to showers for their homeless students. Again, just because it isn’t listed on the school’s website doesn’t mean it’s not worth asking if they have provisions in place.

Alleviating Food Insecurity: When it comes down to paying for food or paying for a class, homeless students face incredibly difficult decisions that they should never have to answer. To resolve this problem, the College and University Food Bank Alliance, a national organization focused on developing and supporting campus-based food programs), now has more than 400 member universities providing free food options.

Mental Health Services: Without proper access to health care and mental health services, homeless college students may find themselves facing depression, substance abuse or suicidal thoughts at a higher rate than their peers. Thankfully, the vast majority of college campuses offer counseling services free of charge to enrolled services. It’s there for a reason – use it when you need it. If you’re not sure a potential school has this resource, contact the American College Counseling Association to find out.

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