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 4 | Federal Financial Aid

The information included on this webpage was excerpted from Chapter 4 of College Access and Success for Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Toolkit for Educators and Service Providers, available in its entirety at

thinking thought bubbleChapter 4, Part 4 | Dependent Homeless Students and the FAFSAyellow horizontal line

Many college-bound students experience homelessness with their family. While the family’s financial resources likely are limited, the parents feel responsible for providing financially for their children and do so to the best of their ability. In these cases, homeless students would be considered dependent for FAFSA purposes and should fill out the FAFSA accordingly, providing information about both their own income and assets and those of their parents.

Educators and service providers working with homeless youth may be concerned that if a homeless student files the FAFSA as a dependent student, the student will be at a disadvantage in terms of the aid package that she receives in comparison to what she would receive had she filed the FAFSA as an independent student. A proper understanding of how a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated should eliminate these concerns.

A dependent student’s EFC serves as a measure of her family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. Factors that affect a student’s EFC include:

  • the family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits, including unemployment and Social Security;
  • the size of the family; and
  • the number of family members who will attend college during the year.

Most families experiencing homelessness have very limited financial resources. If filled out properly, the information submitted on the FAFSA will demonstrate the level of the student’s financial need and his EFC, as well as his financial aid package, will reflect this.

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web series navigationUp Next: Part 5 | Independent Homeless Students and the FAFSA

Web Series Navigation | Chapter 4
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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NAEHCY 2018 Conference
Anaheim, CA
October 27-30, 2018
The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015
Homeless Students in ESEA Reauthorization
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