Thursday, 26 May 2016 00:00
By Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout | Report
When the College Cost Reduction and Access Act took effect in 2009, neither lawmakers nor school administrators had any idea how many college students would check the box on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) -- the document that determines eligibility for Pell grants, subsidized loans and work-study awards that help students pay for college or vocational training -- to indicate that they were homeless.
At last tabulation, the number was 58,000, a small percentage of the 20.2 million students presently enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate study. Nonetheless, school counselors and advocates believe the number is starkly inaccurate and represents a mere fraction of university students who actually lack a permanent home.
Shirley Fan-Chan, director of U-ACCESS at the University of Massachusetts Boston, provides on-campus support to students who are experiencing food insecurity and homelessness. "Most students think of homelessness as being on the street, sleeping in doorways, and for the most part, college students don't do this," she told Truthout. "They hide out. They may stay in one place for a few days or a week, then move somewhere else, bouncing from friend to friend with no fixed place to stay. But they think to themselves, 'Well, this is college. As long as I have a roof over my head, I'm okay.'" MORE