On Your Own? Help for Students in Temporary Housing

by | Feb 9, 2023 | Tools & Resources

Are you a high school student living on your own, without a permanent address? Or a counselor helping students who are homeless or living in temporary housing?

It’s a lot to deal with, especially if you’re graduating high school and hoping to go to college.

But many students make it happen. In New York City, a survey found that 14 percent of students attending the City University of New York experienced recent housing insecurity.

There is a national law and dozens of local programs designed to help homeless students get into college — and then get the help they need to succeed.

Federal college money is also available. There is a special process for you if you’re a high school student, living on your own without your parents.

Start here to get the big picture: FAFSA & Financial Aid for Homeless Students


Four Things to Know

1. First, it’s good to get the big picture. Check out the FAFSA’s Q&A for Homeless Students to get a quick start.

2. You don’t need your parents’ help to apply for money for college. The FAFSA form will ask you if you are homeless. After clicking “yes,” you will be able to fill out the form and won’t be asked for your parent’s financial information or signature.

3. You will need to prove you are homeless to someone in the financial aid office of the college you enroll in. Your school district and your college are required to help you with the FAFSA and financial aid. And many adults want to help you too. Seek out help wherever you can.

4. You don’t need a home address to apply for college or financial aid. But, you do need a mailing address to pick up mail. Try asking a friend, relative, teacher, or counselor to lend you their mailing address. Or consider applying for a PO Box at a local post office.


What Will You Need To Do?

Applying to college and getting money to cover the cost of attendance can be tough for any student. Students who are homeless, unaccompanied, or living in temporary housing will need to take some extra steps. You’ll need to tell your story to the colleges you’re applying to so they can help you. And there is a process for this.

To understand how this works, we love the website SchoolHouse Connection. This terrific nonprofit offers help with:


Be Sure To Ask for Help

We won’t lie. The ability to ask for help will be very important throughout your application process.

You may need help crafting a good email to the college you hope to attend. Or telling your story in a financial aid interview. Or figuring out and conveying to colleges the financial help you may need to get through college.

We know this might feel a bit overwhelming, but don’t get discouraged. Look for people who understand your situation. Feel proud that you’re getting the education you deserve.