Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Unaccompanied homeless youth are young people who lack safe, stable housing and who are not in the care of a parent or guardian. They may have run away from home or been forced to leave by their parents. Unaccompanied youth live in a variety of temporary situations, including shelters, the homes of friends or relatives, cars, campgrounds, public parks, abandoned buildings, motels, and bus or train stations. Unaccompanied youth do not receive financial support from their parents and do not have access to parental information.


To be considered an Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, you must complete a Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Determination Form and submit the appropriate documentation.


Terms to know

  • Homeless: Lacking fixed, regular and adequate housing. You may be homeless if you are living in shelters, parks, motels or cars, or temporarily living with other people because you have nowhere else to go. Also, if you are living in any of these situations and fleeing an abusive parent you may be considered homeless even if your parent would provide support and a place to live.
  • Unaccompanied: Not living in the physical custody of your parent or guardian.
  • At risk of homelessness: When a student’s housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate, for College Access and Success for Students Experiencing Homelessness 34 example, a student who is being evicted and has been unable to find fixed, regular, and adequate housing }
  • Self-supporting: When a student pays for his own living expenses, including fixed, regular, and adequate housing
  • McKinney-Vento School District Liaisons: Under Title VII, subtitle B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, every school district is required to designate a liaison for students experiencing homelessness. Homeless liaisons have a number of legal responsibilities under the Act, including identifying youth who meet the definition of homeless and are unaccompanied. The education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. Click here, for more information.
  • HUD-Funded Shelters: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers funding for homeless shelters and services under Title IV of the McKinney-Vento Act. These funds are distributed to communities through a competitive grant process. Click here for more information.
  • RHYA-Funded Shelters: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs. These programs provide funding for Basic Centers, Transitional Living Programs, and Street Outreach Programs that serve runaway and other unaccompanied homeless youth. Click here for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Last year I was able to supply a letter from high school McKinney-Vento Liaison - what do I do this year?

A: Complete Option #2 on the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth form found at www.gvsu.edu/financialaid/uhy to verify your status.

Q: I don’t have a permanent mailing address because I don’t have a stable home. What address should I use?

A: Use an address where you will be able to receive mail reliably. The address of your school (either your high school or university), or a trusted mentor or family member might be appropriate.

Q: I ran away from home during my senior year in high school and am staying temporarily with a friend. Am I considered an independent student?

A: You are considered an independent student if you received a determination any time on or after July 1, 2013, that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless, or an unaccompanied youth providing your own living expenses who is at risk of being homeless. The financial aid administrator at your college may require you to provide a copy of the determination.

Q: I stayed in a shelter last year. How do I complete the FAFSA?

A: Check “Yes” if you received a determination any time on or after July 1, 2013, that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless, or an unaccompanied youth providing your own living expenses who is at risk of being homeless. The financial aid administrator at your college may require you to provide a copy of the determination or other documentation.

Q: I am staying with a friend’s family. Are they part of my “household?”

A: No. If you are considered independent (for example, because you are an unaccompanied youth who is homeless), and you have no dependent children of your own, you are a family of one (yourself).



Page last modified October 10, 2016