Student Homelessness in Higher Education Resources
Housing insecurity and homelessness pose enormous barriers to success in college. Many college students face the challenge of housing insecurity, struggling to balance the demands of their program while worrying about where to sleep at night. This leads to lower academic performance and lower graduation rates. No student should have to face these difficulties.
There are many resources available to college students experiencing homelessness, but these resources can vary substantially from one community or institution to another. Below is a partial list of resources that students may be able to access. Overall, students experiencing homelessness are encouraged to tell the staff at their campus about their situation. Staff from multiple areas of the institution may be able to help, including the student services office, residential life, financial aid, faculty advisors, and others. Help can come in many forms, including from local nonprofits, government programs, and campus-specific resources.
General Housing Resources
- Year-round housing for on-campus students. Many campuses work to accommodate on-campus students who need housing during breaks and over the summer. Students who lack a place to stay during breaks should work with their student services and residential life offices to identify options.
- Federal housing assistance. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development maintains this list of local housing authorities to contact for help accessing federal housing assistance programs, such as Section 8 vouchers and public housing.
- State and county housing assistance. Various forms of housing assistance are provided through state and county programs. Minnesota Housing, our State's housing finance agency, provides a list of services.
- United Way 2-1-1. A statewide hotline operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week offering a wide range of confidential human services support, including help with housing insecurity. Dial 2-1-1 anywhere in Minnesota.
Community-Specific Housing Resources
- Youth Services Network. Combines information on shelter and services for youth and young adults ages 24 and younger by 13 social service agencies in the twin cities.
- YMCA Youth Resource Line. Connects youth and young adults ages 12 through 24 to community resources. Call 8am-8pm seven days a week: 763-493-3052.
- Drop-in Centers. These centers offer help finding housing plus a range of services including meals, hygiene, health clinics, and other support. Both serve youths including young adults up to age 24:
- Avenues for Homeless Youth.Offers shelter, short-term housing programs, and other support services for youth ages 16 to 20.
- Minneapolis Community and Technical College Resource and Referral Center (MCTC students only). Connects students to a range of services, including housing, food, childcare, transportation, legal, and other kinds of assistance.
- St. Stephens Human Services compiles a handbook of the streets listing resources for people experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
- Lutheran Social Services LINK program. For youth experiencing homelessness, ages 16 to 24. Provides food, clothing, and information on how to access short-term shelter. 1610 14th St. NW, Suite 300 (3rd floor), Rochester, 507-316-8273.
- The REACH Drop-in Center. 125 E. Liberty Street, Mankato. Monday-Thursday 1pm-5pm, ages 16 to 24. Provides a range of services including meals, hygiene, and support finding shelter and housing.
- SNAP Verification Training for Campus Staff. A brief training for financial aid/campus staff who work with students on SNAP eligibility, verification, and/or enrollment. This training is specific to the expanded federal eligibility criteria for college students related to SNAP during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Emergency Assistance for Postsecondary Students (EAPS) Grant Program. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education administers this program to provide colleges with funds for emergency cash assistance to students experiencing housing/food insecurity and other hardships. Students at participating institutions can apply for cash assistance.
- Bridge to Benefits. Childrens Defense Fund of Minnesota provides a tool to help individuals find more public assistance programs.
- Food Pantries:
- TRIO student support services. For first-generation and low-income students.
- Scholarships. Scholarship opportunities exist targeting low-income college students and college students experiencing homelessness, such as this scholarship from Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless.
- Fee waivers for admissions tests and applications. Low-income students can often waive fees for the ACT and SAT, and for college applications. Students who qualified for a fee waiver through the SAT are automatically granted application fee waivers from over 2,000 participating colleges.
- Resources for victims of domestic and intimate partner violence. The Minnesota Day One Crisis Line 952-884-0330 or 1-866-223-1111 provides 24-hour support for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Campuses also offer a range of services for victims of abuse.
- Resources for veterans. The federal and state departments of veterans affairs offer programs targeted at veterans experiencing housing insecurity. The federal VA operates a Community Resource and Referral Center in Minneapolis providing a full range of services, and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs administers the SOAR program to connect veterans with more assistance. Postsecondary institutions also offer a range of student services specific to veterans. These can often be accessed through the offices of student services and financial aid.
- Resources for the LGBTQ community. Outfront Minnesota operates a 24-hour crisis hotline, 612-822-0127, option 3, offering information, support and counseling, including safe-house referrals.