I know firsthand how hard it is to be a homeless college student. Please sign my petition calling on Congress to pass landmark legislation that would make it easier for homeless kids like me to go to college
.As a formerly homeless young person, I’m so proud to be in my final year attending college. It is estimated that only one out of four homeless youth graduates from high school, so achieving a post-secondary education is quite an accomplishment. However, the journey has not been easy.
I fought through my circumstances to go to college, because I knew that was my best chance for a road out of poverty. Now I’m fighting to make it easier for other young people like me to go to college, too.
The thousands of students who are homeless or foster youth in college often have to worry about where they will live during breaks when campus housing shuts down, often right before midterms or finals. I’ve heard about how some must jump through hoops to “prove” they are homeless every year or risk losing financial aid. And sometimes they cannot qualify for in-state tuition because they have no address. The list of barriers goes on and on, on top of the obvious: it’s really hard to get to college in the first place when you don’t even have a home.
Luckily, there is a new bill in Congress, the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act, that would make it much easier for students like me to go to college. Will you sign the Change.org petition I started with two other homeless students urging Congress to pass this landmark legislation?
Being homeless in college hasn’t been easy. Other students go home to their families for Christmas, but I would need to spend weeks trying to find a housing plan for the coldest time of year. Sometimes, offers to go home with friends would fall through last minute. Several years, I spent parts or all of school breaks outside or wandering around my city of Grand Rapids.
Finally, I started a successful campaign on Change.org to change my school’s policies about break housing — and I am proud to say that my college, Aquinas College, is now a leader in taking the initiative to develop safe and effective solutions for students like me.
I have seen firsthand how powerful collective action can be, but I have friends who continue to spend their breaks wandering the streets, and I have seen dozens of my fellow homeless students drop out of their studies after encountering traumatic situations. We need to harness that power of collective action now that this crucial legislation has its first real chance of passing Congress.
I am just one student, and there are thousands of young people in your own community who are waiting for their chance to shine. On behalf of all of us, please consider giving us our opportunity to rise above.
Grand Rapids, Michigan