Research Papers

Student Homelessness Research Paper

Housing for students remains a big challenge in many countries, including the United States of America. Inadequate housing challenges as well as inadequate quality food are still rampant and affect many students in the U.S. colleges. A study “Still hungry and homeless in college study” (2018) published from collaboration between the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and the Temple University shows that 36% of college students see themselves as insecure when it comes to issues of food security (Dill 104). Another 36% considered themselves insecure in securing reliable homes. The report also noted that most community college students faced the problem of homelessness and housing insecurity was a great challenge to graduates more than it was with the students who were still in college.

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The high cost of higher education is pointed out as the primary reason for the student’s homelessness. The data retrieved from the National Centre of education statistics established that in 2016-2017 academic years, the students attending public universities paid over $ 13400, while those attending the private school had to part with $22,330 (Tim). Despite the lack of quality food, most students would not seek public assistance because of the social stigma that could be associated with such acts. For example, in California, only 20% of the students who qualify to access CalFresh applied for the financial benefits associated with the program. 50% of the students also admitted that they are not comfortable meeting other students when they go for food in any of the on-campus pantry.

There are many forms of homelessness that students go through during college life. There are those that categorize themselves as homeless when they stay with their friends and sleep on the couch. Others also live in shelters, outdoor areas, abandoned buildings, and automobiles. The standard connection between the students is that they are never sure of where they would be sleeping. Those in the 2-year institutions were more vulnerable to the homelessness situation than their colleagues in the 4-year institutions. Closely connected to the issues of homelessness is the housing insecurity that affected the college students concerning the residential areas, including the problem of late payment of the utilities or rent on time as required by the owners (Endres and Cidade 56). They also tend to occupy a single residence beyond its capacity because they cannot afford to live in single unit apartments.

It is unfortunate that the number of homeless students seems to increase despite the efforts being made to reduce this number. A recent article published on the US News website established the figure of homeless school children up to the 12th grade rose to over 70% in the last ten years. The new data by the federal authorities also indicate that this increase seems not to slow down anytime soon. A report that was published by the National Centre for the Homeless education showed that in the last three years, the number of homeless college students has increased from 1.26 million in 2015 to 1.36 million in 2017 (Lauren). Although these reports do not focus on the possible reasons for the persistent increase, they have revealed that certain groups of students are more affected by this social problem than others.

Another article on Al Jazeera established there were 32,000 homeless college students in the U.S. in 2017 (Aljazeera). The figure is a huge one considering that it comprises only of the students who are in colleges, leaving out others who are in other levels of education. These homeless students have to go through these experiences even though a college education is perceived as the door to better opportunities. Goldrick-Rab, who is a professor of higher education policy at the Temple University, is quoted in the article as saying that bad lack is one of the factors that lead to many students being homeless (Endres and Cidade 57). According to the professor, the situation is worsened by the fact that more people are now able to attend colleges, yet the government and other stakeholders failed to provide the necessary support for them.

The Most Affected Students
The “2018 Still Hungry and Homeless in College” report also established that the basic housing needs and insecurity tend to affect certain groups of students, more than it harms others (Layton and Emma). It also revealed that the issues of foster care are significant in determining the homelessness of a student. More students from foster families tend to be homeless than the other categories of students.

The report established that the trend was much lower among the students who had not gone through the foster care experience. The report also noted that various sexual orientation groups and gender had different trends. More female students were homeless as compared to the number of male students who were homeless (Tim). The homosexuals and bisexuals also tend to have more problems of homelessness than the heterosexuals.

According to the report, there was also a strong correlation between ethnicity and race in terms of the underlying housing insecurities. Native Americans, Blacks, Hispanics, and the multiracial also reported having the highest rates of homelessness, housing insecurity, and food insecurity (Tim). In the two-year institutions, the Asian students reported the lowest percentage of homelessness while the whites recorded the lowest rate in the 4-year institutions.

Other categories of students who also face severe problems in accessing decent housing include those with children, those without their parents, and the divorced students (Ingram 45). The students were receiving the federal Pell Grants also more likely to face a housing and food insecurity. The students who are citizens or those that are permanent residents also face a much lower percentage in housing problems as compared to the non-permanent or non-citizens. The same case applied to students whose parents were either permanent or non-permanent residents.

The students who are still learning English as their second language make up a considerable percentage of homeless students. The report from the National Centre for Homeless Education estimated that these students make up over 16% of all the homeless students (Endres and Cidade 56). The percentage was a 195 increase from the number that was recorded year years ago while the students with a disability also had a rise of 14%. The invisible nature of homeless students makes it impossible for other people to believe that homeless students exist in the United States.

It might be challenging to identify a homeless student from a crowd. In this sense, the fact that there are some figures about the homeless students alone in itself is an achievement. There are many homeless students in schools that have not been identified yet. This is even though the lack of stable housing or accommodation could lead to poor performance among the students and most of them are likely to become school dropouts. This would mean that homeless students are less likely to proceed to college and later find suitable employment and become productive citizens (Tim). In this sense, schools and states should be making tracks and recording progress of all the homeless students who manage to graduate every year.

Application Process and the Homeless Status
Homeless students face many hurdles or obstacles in the process of applying for college admissions. The same case applies to foster children who are lacking supportive parents to help them through the transition to college life. Lack of support from parents is a significant factor that makes it much difficult for homeless children to access college admissions. Many students struggle to fill and sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms (Endres and Cidade 56). The housing deposits and the fees for entrant exams further make it almost impossible for some students to afford decent housing or even a house at all. Emergency or emergency grant loans are available for the basic needs or homeless insecure students, but some of them would either shy off or fail to get the loans even after trying.

Financial Assistance for the Homeless Students
In the United States, there is financial assistance available to homeless students. However, these students must be ready and willing to submit the FAFSA to enable the authorities to determine whether they qualify for the grants, loans or any other form of financial assistance that the federal government has in the offer. These applicants could also qualify for institutional and state scholarships and grants(Endres and Cidade 56). The applicants are expected to provide adequate information concerning financial and earnings history. They might also be required to include documents such as bank statements, W-2 forms, federal tax returns, and records of their non taxed returns and investments. Some applicants could be considered for taxes, which would require them to submit these documents to their guardians or parents.

However, some of the applicants who are considered for special situations are not required to submit the documentation to their guardians or parents. Those that prove that they are currently homeless or are likely to be homeless anytime soon would qualify under what is known as the dependency override. Only students without a fixed adequate or fixed housing are considered homeless and might include those living in the motels, shelters, parks, automobiles as well as those who have temporary arrangements with other people. The students who wish to leave the homes because of the abusive guardians or parents could also be granted the dependency override. However, the students whose parents have refused financial support would not qualify for the dependency override.

The final decision to offer financial assistance to a student who claims to be homeless rests with the financial aid administrators (FAAs). They should also work closely with those that are not able to verify their homeless status through the documentation, which requires them to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provide, Runaway and Homeless Youth Act provider, or homeless youth liaison.

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Works Cited
Adrienne, Green. The complicated task of identifying homeless students. The Atlantic. 2016.
Aljazeera. Why are so many US college students homeless? 2019.
Dill, Vicky S. “Students without homes.” On Poverty and Learning: Readings from Educational Leadership (EL Essentials) (2016): 104.
Endres, C., and M. Cidade. “Federal data summary school years 2011–2012 to 2013–2014: Education for homeless children and youth.” (2015).
Ingram, Erin S., et al. “Hidden in Plain Sight: Homeless Students in America’s Public Schools.” Civic Enterprises (2017).
Lauren, Camera. A number of homeless students soar. USNEWS. 2019.
Layton, Lyndsey, and Emma Brown. “Number of homeless students in the US has doubled since before the recession.” The Washington Post (2015).
Tim, Walker. School districts finding more and more homeless students. USAToday. 2019.