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caption: FAFSA form for student aid.
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FAFSA form for student aid.
Credit: Flickr Photo/The Bent Tree (CC BY NC 2.0)/

Layers of paperwork for financial aid is even worse for homeless students

June is the month for college graduation, but for many homeless youth, college is beyond their grasp. The paperwork for college applications can be overwhelming and being homeless complicates that process.

When Clarissa Lunday applied for federal financial aid, she had to provide information about her homelessness.

“That was probably the most difficult,” she said. “I can talk about it, it’s just writing it out that, okay, this does not feel good, drudging up this information that I pushed down anyway.”

It was hard to write about the series of traumatic events that led up to her becoming homeless: being raped, being kicked out of her parents’ house, her depression. On top of the paperwork, some schools also had an interview process.

Senator Patty Murray points to a recent federal report that found homeless students and foster youth pursue college at lower rates. These students face rigid requirements that include layers of documentation to get aid.

“If we don’t help these young people get access to college education, to be able to pay in-state tuition, the cost to our economy and our country is much greater because they will end up in a place where they can’t contribute back,” said Murray.

Murray is proposing legislation that would streamline the financial aid questions for homeless students. It would also require colleges to create a one-stop office to help them.

For Lunday, it would’ve made a world of difference. “It will definitely provide me and others not having to share that pain with people that we don’t know,” she said, “or having to tell it over and over again.”

Lunday is going back to school this fall. She plans to get a degree in fashion merchandising.

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