Most, if not all of these hapless college students are eligible to receive Pell Grants based on their economic circumstances and most are probably borrowing money from the federal student-loan program. At the University of Massachusetts-Boston, a student support center provides free meals for homeless people and guidance on financial aid.
Is this a good idea? Kathleen O'Neill, who runs something called Single Stop USA at Bunker Hill Community College, thinks it's a great idea for homeless people to attend college. "These are people who get it," said Ms. O'Neill. "The way out of poverty is education and they are committed to doing whatever it is they need to do to get there"(as quoted in a Huffington Post article).
Obviously, having homeless students in college works out great for the colleges. They get more tuition-paying students, and the federal student-aid program foots the bill.
|I would love to chat but I'm late for my social studies class.|
Drake's president defended the practice of recruiting homeless students. "We do not believe that recruiting at [homeless] shelters is either illegal, unethical, or immoral so long as the recruitment of students from shelters is above board, which it has been," Drake's President Ziad Fadel said of its practice (as quoted in Golden & Hechinger, 2010). Nevertheless, Drake stopped recruiting homeless students.
If homeless people borrowed money to attend college, obtained the training they needed to get good jobs, and then paid off their student loans, this would be a Cinderella story. But my guess is that an awful lot of these 58,000 people will never pay off their student loans. And when they go into default they will be barred from participating further in the federal student aid program.
In my view, a university that feeds homeless people while it helps them fill out financial aid applications sounds a lot like the way religious homeless shelters used to operate. Sure, we'll feed you, but you have to listen to this sermon first. Here's a nice hot meal, but don't spell soup on your FAFSA form.
When I reflect on the fact that 58,000 homeless people are paying tuition with federal student aid money, President Obama's proposal to offer two years of free education at the nation's community colleges sounds like a good idea.
Wouldn't it be better if economically disadvantaged people could get two years of free secondary education or training rather than forcing them to take out student loans to pay their tuition bills--loans very few of them will ever pay back?
Shadee Ashtari. A Look Into the 'Double Lives' Of America's Homeless. Huffington Post, December 26, 2014 (updated January 7, 2015. Accessible at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/26/college-student-homeless-boston_n_6145980.html
Daniel Golden & Jon Hechinger. For-Profit N.J. College Halts Recruiting of Homeless. Bloomberg, May 5, 2010. Accessible at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-05-05/drake-for-profit-college-in-new-jersey-will-stop-recruitment-of-homeless