Multiple Pathways to Success: Supporting Foster and Homeless Students

On Thursday, June 28th, the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (CFOI) and Federal Student Aid (FSA) co-hosted a webinar for faith and community leaders, as well as other caring adults, to provide information on assisting foster and homeless students with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Faith and community leaders are in direct contact with many foster and homeless students, and this webinar was the first in a series to provide them with resources to help their communities. Fred Stennis, the Outreach Team Coordinator at FSA, and Dr. Andrea Ramirez, the Acting Director of CFOI, discussed the process for students applying for federal student aid, how faith and community leaders can help guide students through this process and dispelled some of the myths about the FAFSA and FSA.

The purpose of this webinar was to help foster and homeless students who wish to pursue higher education. Dr. Ramirez introduced the topic with information regarding the nation’s foster and homeless student population. She then shared the U.S. Department of Education’s goal of providing students with multiple pathways to success; higher education is one such pathway. Fred Stennis then gave attendees information on resources that FSA provides to students, including directions for filling out FAFSA.

FSA gives out $120 billion to more than 13 million students every year, through grants, loans, and work-study programs. Foster and homeless youth face unique challenges when pursuing higher education, but this webinar explained how they are treated equally when filling out the FAFSA. Caring adults who wish to help foster and homeless students should encourage them to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

Some key takeaways from this webinar were:

  • All U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for Federal Student Aid, including foster and homeless students.
  • FAFSA opens on October 1st.Check for deadlines from FSA, state agencies, colleges, and other financial aid and scholarship opportunities.
  • Complete the FAFSA with information as of the date of submission. (Applicants do not need to update the application after submission, but can re-submit the form if necessary.)
  • Applicants do not need to provide a home address to fill out the FAFSA. Applicants will be required to provide an address where they can reliably receive mail. This can be the address of any caring adult in their life.
  • Applicants should include up to 10 schools on the FAFSA to compare their aid options from schools they’re considering.

For more information on this webinar, emailEdPartners@ed.gov for a copy of the presentation.

For more information on FAFSA and other FSA resources, FSA holds monthly webinars, has tutorial videos on their YouTube channel and will answer questions via email or web chat on their website, studentaid.gov, or by phone at 1-800-4FED-AID.

CFOI will be hosting another webinar on August 23rd, 2018, from 1-2:00pm (ET), with guest speakers from FSA and the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), to provide faith and community leaders with resources to aid citizens returning from the prison system as they navigate FAFSA and career, technical and apprenticeship opportunities. Registration will be available soon. To be notified when registration is available, and to learn more about our work at the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, email EdPartners@ed.gov and request to receive our center’s highlights.