Policy Updates

Federal Highlights

S. 1795 (Sen. Murray, Patty [D-WA])/H.R. 3740 (Rep. Clark, Katherine M. [D-MA-5]) – Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act

This bill was introduced in the House and Senate on September 12th, 2017.  It currently sits in the House Education and the Workforce Committee for review, and the Senate referred it to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  The bill currently has a combined eleven bi-partisan co-sponsors.

This bill clarifies the eligibility guidelines for determinations of homeless students who qualify for independent status, prioritizes foster and homeless youth for work study awards, forbids the inclusion of education training vouchers and independent living stipends in student cost of attendance formulas, and requires that foster and homeless students not pay more than in-state tuition and fees.  It goes further to support homeless and foster youth in higher education institutions by requiring the creation of a staff position that is a “single point of contact” who will be responsible for connecting eligible students with support services, resources, and programs, as well as ensuring housing priority for these students “during school breaks or year-round” and developing plans to support access to housing “during and between academic years”. 

Included in this bill are updates to the TRIO and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate programs.  Changes to the TRIO program would require revisions and updates to policy and practice in order to remove barriers to homeless and foster youth participation in Talent Search, Upward Bound, Student Support Services and Educational Opportunity Center programs.  The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness program requires that individual programs detail how they plan to facilitate participation of homeless and foster youth, remove barriers to participation and collaborate with outside agencies to identify eligible participants.


To learn more and track this bill, go to: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3740q=%7B"search"%3A%5B"HR3740"%5D%7D&r=1

S. 1792 (Sen. Franken, Al [D-MN])/H.R. 3742 (Rep. Davis, Danny [D-IL-7]) – Fostering Success in Higher Education Act of 2017

This bill was introduced in the House and Senate on September 12th, 2017.  It currently sits in the House Education and the Workforce Committee for review, and the Senate referred it to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  The bill currently has 26 bi-partisan co-sponsors in the House.

This bill will amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide grants to states to improve higher education opportunities to homeless and foster youth.  Under the measure, funding can be provided for programs that seem to recruit foster and homeless youth to pursue higher education and provide supportive services for student who are enrolled.


To learn more and track this bill, go to: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3742?q=%7B"search"%3A%5B"HR3742"%5D%7D&r=1

H.R. 2236 (Rep. Davis, Danny K. [D-IL-7]) – Foster and Homeless Youth Food Security Act of 2017

This bill was introduced in the House on April 28th, 2017.  It was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, then to the Subcommittee on Nutrition in May 2017, where it remains.  The bill currently has five Democratic co-sponsors.

This short but important bill amends the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 by adding a new definition of “foster care individual” to the Act, and a redefinition of “food” to include meals prepared and served by higher education institutions.  It also allows a foster care or homeless youth SNAP benefits if they are enrolled at least half-time by granting a household and work requirement exception.


To learn more and track this bill, go to: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2236?q=%7B"search"%3A%5B"HR2236"%5D%7D&r=1

H.R. 6157 (Passed) (Rep. Granger, Kay [R-TX-12]) – Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019

This bill was introduced in the House on June 20th, 2018.  April 28th, 2017.  This bill passed the House on June, 28th, 2018 and the Senate on August 23rd, 2018.  It was presented to the President for signature on September 27th, 2018.

This bill provides an 11.6% increase in funds committed to TRIO programs, from FY2017.  There are increases in funding to support career and technical education programs (13%), as well as Pell Grants (5.7%).  This information was provided by School House Connection.  For further details on the educational aspects of the bill, please go to: https://www.schoolhouseconnection.org/fy2019-funding-bill-passes-expected-to-be-signed-into-law/


To learn more and track this bill, go to: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/6157?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22H.R.+6157%22%5D%7D&r=1

State Highlights

Illinois – HB5122 (Passed) – Public Act 100-1045 - DCFS-Tuition & Fee Waiver

Qualifying youth shall receive a tuition and fee waiver to assist them in attending and completing their post-secondary education.  Qualified youth are defined as those for whom DCFS has court-ordered legal responsibility, youth who aged out of care at age 18 or older, or youth who had an adoption assistance agreement or subsidized guardianship agreement.  Potential students must meet academic and age requirements as well as complete the FAFSA to apply for federal and State grant assistance.  Community colleges and public universities must waive any tuition and fees that exceed the grant amounts paid to the potential student.


To learn more about this public act, go to: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=100-1045


Pennsylvania – HB1745 (Referred to Committee) – Fostering Independence Through Education Act

The proposed bill provides a tuition and fee waiver for undergraduate courses to eligible individuals who reside in the commonwealth.  Eligible individuals must be between 14 and 26, have been in substitute care for at least six months, at any time, while 14 years of age or older.  An individual who was adopted or placed with a permanent guardian at or after the age of 14 is also considered eligible. The individual must have completed high school (or its equivalent), have been accepted to or currently attending a State postsecondary educational institution, and have applied for all available Federal and State grants.  The waiver can last up to five-years, consecutive or not, or until the individual reaches 26 years of age. 


To learn more and track this bill, go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2017&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1745

Washington – 6274-S2.SL (Passed) – Chapter 28B.117 RCW – Passport to Careers Program

This program is unique in that it offers two programmatic pathways for eligible students.  The first is known as a passport to college promise, the second a passport to apprenticeship opportunities.  Both programs offer scholarship and student assistance for students who were under the care of the state, tribal, or federal foster care system, and also includes verified unaccompanied youth or young adults who have experienced homelessness.


The eligible student must have been in the care of the state, tribal, or federal foster care system while also meeting the age requirements, or be verified as an unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness, be a resident of the state, be enrolled or will enroll in an institution of higher education or recognized apprenticeship/preapprenticeship program and must not have previously earned a bachelor’s or professional degree.


The apprenticeship opportunities program will be tasked with identifying eligible students/applications, providing financial assistance to eligible applicants for up to six years after initial enrollment in a recognized program, or until they turn 26.  Recipients may utilize both passport programs at different times, but not concurrently.  Their total award may not exceed the amount that they would have received if attending a public university for five years with the highest annual tuition and fees in the state.

To learn more about these programs, go to: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28B.117&full=true - 28B.117.040

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