There are many Montana youth who qualify as homeless but are not “living on the streets.”
There are resources that can help youth overcome the challenges and find a path out of homelessness.
Preparing & Paying
College after high school is within reach, there are opportunities available.
Check out our list of resources for youth experiencing homelessness.
Who Qualifies as a Homeless Youth?
Students up to age 24 qualify to receive services for homeless youth if they meet at least one of the following:
- Homeless includes youth who lack fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
- At-risk of homelessness refers to students whose housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate.
- Unaccompanied includes youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.
While it may be difficult to identify a youth as homeless, unaccompanied, or at-risk of being homeless, here is a list of Potential Warning Signs of Homelessness and the Unaccompanied Youth Eligibility Flowchart to help you make a determination.
Why Should I Enroll or Identify as Homeless?
There are some great benefits and services available for homeless youth that should be taken advantage of. These benefits and services can help youth overcome the challenges they face and find a path out of homelessness. Check out some of these listed below.
At Reach Higher Montana, we have compiled useful information to help you Explore Your Optionsand
Who Can Verify Eligibility?
These individuals and agencies are able to verify eligibility for Homeless, Unaccompanied, or At-Risk of Becoming Homeless status. Verification can open doors to benefits and resources that are available.
- School District Homeless Liaisons
- Gear Up Program (high schools)
- TRiO Student Support Service (college campuses)
- College Financial Aid Administrator
If you are authorized to make an official determination of homeless status, you can use this form to document eligibility.
If you do not have an unaccompanied homeless youth determination but believe you qualify for one, please contact your school district homeless liaison or the college financial aid office for an official eligibility determination.
Take a mental selfie
Juniors in high school, you had or will have the opportunity to take the ACT exam for free. Did you do the best job taking the test you could? If not, get a fee waiver from your counselor and take the exam again.
Preparing and Paying for School
Start Preparing for Life After High School
Paying for college admission exams, advanced placement tests, and college applications can be challenging but there are opportunities to reduce the cost.
- - Eligible students can receive unlimited AP exam fee waivers. Ask your school's AP coordinator.
- ACT Fee Waivers - Covers registration and late fees for the full ACT (with or without writing), access to prep tools, and sending the test score(s) to six colleges. Ask your school counselor.
- SAT Fee Waiver - Covers basic test fees and sending test score(s) to unlimited colleges and late registration fees. Ask your counselor.
- PSAT Test Fee Waiver - Availabe for juniors. Ask your counselor.
College Application Fees:
- College Board progra - Students who qualify for the SAT fee waiver also qualify for the Waiver of College Application Fee forms.
- National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) for - Seniors complete with your counselor if you plan on going college. Same eligibility criteria as the ACT and SAT waivers.
- Most colleges accept the College Board or NACAC waiver forms; however, individual institutions may have their own fee waiver policies that vary.
- Colleges that use The Common Applicatio accept the SAT college application fee waiver.
- Some colleges do not charge application fees for students that apply online.
Paying for School
Let's Start with the FAFSA
Montana youth who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless may qualify as independent when completing the Learn more.. Why does this matter? Students may be eligible for FREE money for school (grants). Students who qualify as independent will not have to include parent or guardian income tax information or their signature(s) when completing the FAFSA application. This increases the applicants’ chances of qualifying for the Pell grant, the Federal Supplemental Opportunities Grant (FSEOG), and work study.
Scholarships for Youth Experiencing Homelessness
We have a list of scholarships for youth experiencing homelessness, unaccompanied, or at-risk of becoming homeless, we encourage you to take a look and apply.
Educators: Provide a FAFSA determination letter to every high school senior who is identified as being homeless under the McKinney-Vento guidelines prior to their high school graduation date.
During High School
- Montana 2-1-1
Montana 2-1-1 connects you with the community resources, services, and assistance you need.
- Hopa Mountain's Scholars of Promise
Is a college and vocational preparation program that provides homeless teens with training, mentoring, and support services.
- MT Continuum of Care Coalition
Providing housing assistance or services.
- Montana Homeless Information (HUD)
This a a great list of resources and services, from housing to legal assistance.
- Montana Homeless Liaisons
Looking for help or information? Reach out to the homeless liaison at your high school.
- Montana Office of Public Instruction Homeless Youth Programs
This program ensures that youth experiencing homelessness have access to public education. Reach out if you need help finding resources.
- National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY)
NAEHCY provides scholarships, resources, and an annual conference designed to support homeless youth.
- National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE)
Find information, materials, data, and resources to support homeless youth.
- National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP)
Helps homeless youth and families protect themselves and their rights as people.
- QuestBridge College Prep Scholars
Quest Bridge accepts high school juniors and seniors who have maintained strong academic standards despite despite financial challenges.
- SchoolHouse Connection
Has resources, stories, and expert advice for youth experiences homelessness.
Scholarships and College Help
- Dell Scholars Program
Opens Oct. 1, closes Dec. 1. $20,000 over 6 yrs. (based on need and at-risk status)
- EEQUAL Scholarships
Opens in Nov. Up to $8,000 (based homeless status, includes mentoring)
- Hopa Mountain's Scholars of Promise Vocational Scholarship
Closes Dec. 20. $2,000 (vocational program, priority to foster youth or homeless)
- Horatio Alger Scholarships
Opens Dec. 1, closes Mar. 15. $2,250 - $25,000. (based on need)
- Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarships
Opens Aug. 25, closes Nov. 17. up to $55,000 (based on merit and need)
- National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth Scholarships
Opens Aug. 9, closes Sept. 16. $2,000 (based on homeless status)
- Pride Foundation Scholarship
Opens Oct. 11, closes Jan. 6. 60+ scholarships (students facing barriers - housing, poverty, discrimination, support, and more)
- QuestBridge National College Match
Opens late summer, closes Sept. 27. Up to $200,000 (based on merit and need)
- School House Connection Youth Leadership and Scholarship Program
Opens June 12, closes Nov. 24. $2,000 (based on if you have experienced homelessness in the past 6 years)
- Montana GEAR UP program
Provides quality tools and services for students on their journey to obtain postsecondary education.
Reach Higher Montana and Montana Office of Public Instruction are working in partnership to help youth experiencing homelessness find their path after high school and take advantage of opportunities available to them.