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S. 1754 (113th): Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act

The text of the bill below is as of Nov 21, 2013 (Introduced).


II

113th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1754

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

November 21, 2013

(for herself, Ms. Landrieu, and Ms. Baldwin) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

A BILL

To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve the financial aid process for homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act .

2.

Definitions

(a)

Independent student

Section 480(d) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1087vv(d) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)(H)

(A)

in the matter preceding clause (i)

(i)

by striking during the school year in which the application is submitted;

(ii)

by inserting age 23 or younger after unaccompanied youth; and

(iii)

by striking terms are and inserting term is;

(B)

in clause (i), by inserting , or a designee of the liaison after Act;

(C)

in clause (ii), by striking a program funded under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and inserting an emergency or transitional shelter, street outreach program, homeless youth drop-in center, or other program serving homeless youth,; and

(D)

in clause (iii), by striking program funded under subtitle B of title IV of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (relating to emergency shelter grants) and inserting Federal TRIO program or a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate program under chapter 1 or 2 of subpart 2 of part A,; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following:

(3)

Simplifying the determination process for unaccompanied youth

(A)

Verification

A financial aid administrator is not required to verify homelessness determinations made by the individuals authorized to make such determinations under clause (i), (ii), or (iii) of paragraph (1)(H) in the absence of conflicting information. A documented phone call with, or a written statement from, one of the relevant authorities is sufficient verification when needed.

(B)

Determination of independence

A financial aid administrator shall make a determination of independence under paragraph (1)(H) if a student does not have, and cannot get, documentation from any of the other designated authorities. This determination is based on the definitions outlined in paragraph (1)(H) and is distinct from a determination of independence under paragraph (1)(I). The determination may be based on a documented interview with the student if there is no written documentation available.

(C)

Duration of determination

A student shall receive a determination under paragraph (1)(H) during the school year in which the student initially submits the application. In subsequent years, the student shall be presumed to be independent unless—

(i)

the student informs the financial aid office that circumstances have changed; or

(ii)

the financial aid administrator has specific conflicting information about the student’s independence.

.

(b)

Foster care children and youth

Section 103 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1003 ) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(25)

Foster care children and youth

The term foster care children and youth

(A)

means children and youth whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or Tribal agency that administers a State plan under part B or E of title IV of the Social Security Act ( 42 U.S.C. 621 et seq. and 670 et seq.), without regard to whether foster care maintenance payments are made under section 472 of such Act ( 42 U.S.C. 672 ) on behalf of the child; and

(B)

includes individuals whose care and placement was the responsibility of the State or Tribal agency that administers a State plan under part B or E of title IV of the Social Security Act ( 42 U.S.C. 621 et seq. and 670 et seq.) when they were age 13 or older but are no longer the care and responsibility of the State or tribal agency.

.

3.

Student loan ombudsman

Section 141(f)(3) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1018(f)(3) ) is amended—

(1)

in subparagraph (A), by striking and after the semicolon;

(2)

in subparagraph (B), by striking the period at the end and inserting ; and; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following:

(C)

receive, review, and resolve expeditiously complaints regarding a student’s independence under subparagraph (B) or (H) of section 480(d)(1), in consultation with knowledgeable parties, including child welfare agencies, local educational agency liaisons for homeless children and youths designated under subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.) or State Coordinators for Education of Homeless Children and Youths established under such subtitle.

.

4.

Program participation agreements

Section 487(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1094(a) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (19), by inserting housing facilities, after libraries,; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following:

(30)

The institution certifies that the institution—

(A)

has designated an appropriate staff person, who may also be a coordinator for other programs, as a single point of contact to assist homeless children and youths (as such term is defined in section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a)) and foster care children and youth in accessing and completing postsecondary education;

(B)

posts public notice about student financial assistance and other assistance available to homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth, including their eligibility as independent students under subparagraphs (B) and (H) of sections 480(d)(1);

(C)

has developed a plan for how homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth can access housing resources during and between academic terms, through means that may include access to on-campus housing during breaks and a list of housing resources in the community that provide short-term housing; and

(D)

has included in its application for admission questions (to be answered voluntarily) regarding the applicant’s status as a homeless child or youth or foster care child or youth, which the applicant can answer voluntarily for the limited purpose of being provided information about financial aid or any other available assistance.

.

5.

Federal TRIO programs

Section 402A of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1070a–11 ) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (c), by striking the fourth sentence and inserting the following: The Secretary shall require each applicant for funds under the programs authorized by this chapter to identify, conduct specific outreach to, and recruit foster care children and youth and homeless children and youths (as such term is defined in section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a)), in collaboration with child welfare agencies, homeless shelters, and local educational agency liaisons for homeless children and youths designated under section 722(g)(1)(J)(ii) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act ( 42 U.S.C. 11432(g)(1)(J)(ii) ), and make available to foster care children and youth and homeless children and youths services under such programs, including mentoring, tutoring, and other services provided by such programs.; and

(2)

in subsection (f)(3)

(A)

in subparagraph (A)(i), by inserting and to homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth after by the program;

(B)

in subparagraph (B)(i), by inserting and to homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth after by the program;

(C)

in subparagraph (C)(iii), by inserting and to homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth after total number of students; and

(D)

in subparagraph (E)(iii), by inserting and to homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth after by the program.

6.

Talent search

Section 402B(d) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1070a–12(d) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (3), by striking and after the semicolon;

(2)

in paragraph (4), by striking the period at the end and inserting a semicolon; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following:

(5)

require that the project collect and submit to the Secretary data on the number of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth served;

(6)

require that the project review and revise policies and practices to remove barriers to the participation and retention of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth, including policies to allow immediate participation even if the child or youth is unaccompanied by a parent or guardian or is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency, or other documentation, and other policies consistent with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11301 et seq.);

(7)

require that the project submit a description of the activities that will be undertaken to outreach to homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth; and

(8)

require that the project submit a description of any strategies or program enhancements that were used that were effective in meeting the needs of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth.

.

7.

Upward bound

Section 402C(e) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1070a–13(e) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (4), by striking and after the semicolon;

(2)

in paragraph (5), by striking the period at the end and inserting a semicolon; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following:

(6)

require that the project collect and submit to the Secretary data on the number of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth served;

(7)

require that the project review and revise policies and practices to remove barriers to the participation and retention of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth, including policies to allow immediate participation even if the child or youth is unaccompanied by a parent or guardian or is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency, or other documentation, and other policies consistent with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11301 et seq.);

(8)

require that the project submit a description of the activities that will be undertaken to outreach to homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth; and

(9)

require that the project submit a description of any strategies or program enhancements that were used that were effective in meeting the needs of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth.

.

8.

Student support services

Section 402D(e) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1070a–14(e) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (5), by striking and after the semicolon;

(2)

in paragraph (6)(B), by striking the period at the end and inserting a semicolon; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following:

(7)

require that the project collect and submit to the Secretary data on the number of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth served;

(8)

require that the project review and revise policies and practices to remove barriers to the participation and retention of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth, including policies to allow immediate participation even if the child or youth is unaccompanied by a parent or guardian or is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency, or other documentation;

(9)

require that the project submit a description of the activities that will be undertaken to outreach to homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth; and

(10)

require that the project submit a description of any strategies or program enhancements that were used that were effective in meeting the needs of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth.

.

9.

Educational opportunity centers

Section 402F(c) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1070a–16(c) ) is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (2), by striking and after the semicolon;

(2)

in paragraph (3), by striking the period at the end and inserting a semicolon; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following:

(4)

require that the project collect and submit to the Secretary data on the number of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth served;

(5)

require that the project review and revise policies and practices to remove barriers to the participation and retention of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth, including policies to allow immediate participation even if the child or youth is unaccompanied by a parent or guardian or is unable to produce records normally required for enrollment, such as previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency, or other documentation, and other policies consistent with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11301 et seq.);

(6)

require that the project submit a description of the activities that will be undertaken to outreach to homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth; and

(7)

require that the project submit a description of any strategies or program enhancements that were used that were effective in meeting the needs of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth.

.

10.

Gaining early awareness and readiness for undergraduate programs

Section 404C(a)(2) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1070a–23(a)(2))

(1)

in subparagraph (I), by striking and after the semicolon;

(2)

in subparagraph (J), by striking the period at the end and inserting ; and; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following:

(K)

describe how the eligible entity will facilitate the participation of foster care children and youth and homeless children and youths (as such term is defined in section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act ( 42 U.S.C. 11434a )), including—

(i)

how the entity will identify foster care children and youth and homeless children and youths, in collaboration with child welfare agencies, homeless shelters, and local educational agency liaisons for homeless children and youths designated under section 722(g)(1)(J)(ii) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11432(g)(1)(J)(ii));

(ii)

how the entity will collect and submit to the Secretary data on the number of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth served; and

(iii)

the policies and practices the entity will adopt to remove barriers to the participation of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth, including policies to facilitate continued participation despite changes in residence resulting from homelessness or foster care placement and policies consistent with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11301 et seq.).

.

11.

In-State tuition rates for homeless children or youths and foster care children and youth

Section 135 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1015d ) is amended—

(1)

in the section heading, by inserting , and homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth after children ;

(2)

in subsection (a)

(A)

by striking (a) Requirement.—In the case and inserting the following:

(a)

Requirement

(1)

Armed forces

In the case

; and

(B)

by adding at the end the following:

(2)

Homeless children or youths and foster care children or youth

In the case of a homeless child or youth or a foster care child or youth, such State shall not charge such individual tuition for attendance at a public institution of higher education in the State at a rate that is greater than the rate charged for residents of the State.

; and

(3)

by striking subsections (c) and (d) and inserting the following:

(c)

Effective date

(1)

Armed forces

With respect to an individual described in subsection (a)(1), this section shall take effect at each public institution of higher education in a State that receives assistance under this Act for the first period of enrollment at such institution that begins after July 1, 2009.

(2)

Homeless children or youths and foster care children or youth

With respect to an individual described in subsection (a)(2), this section shall take effect at each public institution of higher education in a State that receives assistance under this Act for the first period of enrollment at such institution that begins after July 1, 2015.

(d)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Armed forces

The terms armed forces and active duty for a period of more than 30 days have the meanings given those terms in section 101 of title 10, United States Code.

(2)

Homeless children and youths

The term homeless children and youths has the meaning given the term in section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a).

.

12.

Grant for Federal work-study programs

Section 443(b)(6) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 42 U.S.C. 2753(b)(6) ) is amended by inserting , and to prioritize employment for students who are currently or formerly homeless children and youths or foster care children and youth after thereof.

13.

Excludable income

Section 480(e) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 1087vv(e) ) is amended by striking paragraph (5) and inserting the following:

(5)

payments made and services provided under part E of title IV of the Social Security Act, including the value of vouchers for education and training made available under section 477 of such Act, and any payments made directly to the youth as part of an extended foster care program pursuant to such part E; and

.

14.

GAO report on educational attainment of homeless children and youths and foster care children and youth

(a)

In general

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall prepare and submit a report on the educational attainment of youth who are or have been homeless, including those who are or have been unaccompanied homeless youth, and foster care youth to the appropriate committees of Congress.

(b)

Content

The report described in subsection (a) shall review and assess enrollment and completion data for both accompanied and unaccompanied homeless youth and foster care youth, including the following:

(1)

The percentage of such youth attending an institution of higher education.

(2)

The percentage of such youth graduating from an institution of higher education.

(3)

The average length of time taken to obtain an associate's or bachelor’s degree.

(4)

The percentage of such youth attending—

(A)

a public institution of higher education;

(B)

a private institution of higher education;

(C)

a community college; and

(D)

a 4-year institution of higher education.

(5)

Reasons why such youth choose not to pursue a higher education.

(6)

The availability of public and private tuition assistance specifically for such youth and the awareness among such youth of such programs.

(7)

The availability of other public or private programs designed to encourage and support enrollment in, and completion of, higher education for such youth.

(8)

Ways in which the Department of Education might increase the educational attainment rates of such youth.