The value of a college degree is undisputed. A 2010 report from the College Board estimates that, among full-time workers, high school graduates earned a median annual income of $33,800; workers with an associate’s degree, $42,000; and, workers with a bachelor’s degree, $55,700.

Chapter 1 | Introduction and Context

The series of Webpages that follows is excerpted from Chapter 1 of College Access and Success for Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Toolkit for Educators and Service Providers, available in its entirety at For a more comprehensive discussion of introductory and contextual information related to college access and success for students experiencing homelessness, download College Access and Success for Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Toolkit for Educators and Service Providers and reference Chapter 1 - Introduction and Context,  Appendix 1A - Common Signs of Homelessness, and Appendix 1B - Checklist of Strategies for Identifying High School Students Experiencing Homelessness.

question mark in a yellow, green, and blue thought bubbleChapter 1, Part 1 | Who Are Homeless Youth?
yellow horizontal line

Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, reauthorized in 2001, (hereafter referred to as the McKinney-Vento Act) is the key piece of federal legislation related to the K-12 public education of children and youth experiencing homelessness. According to the McKinney-Vento Act, a child or youth who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence is considered homeless. In addition to the fixed, regular, and adequate wording, which is the definition’s guiding phrase, the definition includes examples of living arrangements that would not be considered fixed, regular, and adequate and, therefore, would meet the definition of homeless. Visit to read the full McKinney-Vento definition of homeless.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) collects homeless education data from school districts across the country. According to a report by the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE), entitled Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program Data Collection Summary, U.S. public schools enrolled 1,168,354 children and youth experiencing homelessness during the 2011-2012 school year. The McKinney-Vento Act does not include specific age requirements a student must meet to be considered eligible for the rights and services provided through the Act. As long as a student is eligible for K-12 public education in the state, she may be considered eligible for McKinney-Vento services, provided that her nighttime living arrangement meets the definition of homeless.

As discussed in greater detail in Chapter 4 | Federal Financial Aid of this web series, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) uses the McKinney-Vento Act’s definition of homeless; but when referring to unaccompanied homeless youth (UHY) for purposes of federal financial aid for post-secondary education, the CCRAA includes the following definition of youth:

  • a student who is 21 years old or younger; or
  • a student who is still enrolled in high school as of the date he signs the FAFSA.

transparent spacer

related resources thought bubbleRelated Resources
yellow horizontal line

transparent spacer

web series navigationUp Next: Part 2 | Educational Challenges for Homeless Youth

Web Series Navigation | Chapter 1
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Web Series Homepage | Table of Contents

NAEHCY 2018 Conference
Anaheim, CA
October 27-30, 2018
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
Homeless Students in ESEA Reauthorization
Sign Up to Receive Email Updates
Receive updates from NAEHCY about homeless education issues