Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Due to a lack of stable housing, students experiencing homelessness face a variety of educational challenges including greater school mobility, difficulty enrolling in school, and struggling to pay for school supplies, extracurricular fees, and college preparatory materials. Homelessness remains an invisible issue and many students go unidentified, making it difficult to target supports and track student outcomes.

  • More than 1.3 million students enrolled in public schools during the 2015-16 school year were homeless.
  • Research approximates that homeless youth are chronically absent at a rate at least double that of the overall student population.
  • Research indicates that youth experiencing homelessness are more likely to drop out than their non-homeless peers. In a survey of youth who had experienced homelessness at some point during middle or high school, 42% indicated having dropped out one or more times from school. Another study found that homeless youth are 87% more likely to drop out than their non-homeless peers.
  • While only a few states have reported graduation rates for homeless students in the past, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to report disaggregated data for homeless students in their state report cards. In 2014:
    • 52.7% of homeless youth compared to 77.3% of all students in Colorado graduated high school
    • 68.4% of homeless youth compared to 85.8% of all students in Kansas graduated high school
    • 70.4% of homeless youth compared to 89.9% of all students in Virginia graduated high school
    • 46.1% of homeless youth compared to 77.2% of all students in Washington graduated high school
    • 53% of homeless youth compared to 78.6% of all students in Wyoming graduated high school.

There is no national estimate on the number of college students experiencing homelessness, and not much is known about the postsecondary outcomes of homeless youth.

Resources