An estimated 1.2 million public school students are experiencing homelessness nationwide.

The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth bill was reintroduced in May 2024.

The bill is sponsored by Senators Patty Murray and Mike Braun, and Representatives Sydney Kamlager-Dove and Erin Houchin.

On May 16 we held our first annual Senior Celebration and, along with our partners and supporters, honored Brightlane’s 2024 graduating seniors. This year marked our second partnering with high schools to support students with homework completion, test prep, and credit recovery on-site throughout the day.

At the same time that we’re ensuring our seniors have the credits and grades to graduate, we’re often supporting their next steps. Completing the FAFSA application, considering future paths, including entering the job force or attending a trade school or college, working on college applications, and navigating campus visits are all wrapped into the care our team provides. Our support is in collaboration with students’ guidance counselors and social workers.

Together with our high school partners, we provide a robust and critical support network that helps ensure student success. But what happens when that support network isn’t there when they continue on their academic journeys?

As some of the seniors left the celebration, they asked if they could have their college materials mailed to our office, unsure of where they might be living over the summer. This uncertainty continues when they arrive on campus. When the dorms close for breaks, many of these students have to find an alternative place to stay and food may be harder to access. The hurdles extend beyond these basic needs to navigating financial aid and where to access resources on campus.

We’re focused on developing additional tools and resources to support Brightlane students on the next leg of their path to brighter and more stable futures. Yet a national solution is required so that the 1.2 million public school students experiencing homelessness have fewer obstacles in accessing and completing higher education.

On May 7, 2024, the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth (HEASHFY) (S. 4270/H.R. 8273) bill was reintroduced. Sponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mike Braun (R-IN), and Representatives Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA) and Erin Houchin (R-IN), this bill is designed to remove barriers to higher education for homeless and foster youth and help ensure they can pursue a higher education and get the support they need to thrive.

This legislation would:

  • Require institutions of higher education to designate a homeless and foster liaison to help students navigate higher education and access services;
  • Designate liaisons at each institution of higher education to assist homeless and foster youth in accessing student support services and community resources;
  • Require institutions of higher education to develop a plan for homeless and foster youth to access on-campus housing during and between academic breaks;
  • Ask states to grant in-state tuition rates to those students who haven’t had stable residency.

Brightlane’s work is just one part of the solution as we work to make educational equity a reality and ensure that every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential. You can access a one page summary of this legislation or learn more and take action by asking your legislator to support HEASHFY (S. 4270/H.R. 8273). Students impacted by homelessness and foster youth need our support to eliminate the barriers they face accessing higher education.