Florida House Bill Could Be Detrimental to Homeless Students in the State

The HB 4031 proposes to eliminate payment of tuition and fees at school districts that provide workforce training programs and public post-secondary educational institutions for students who do not have a regular nighttime residence or sleeping accommodations.

Kevin Priest, CEO and president of Capital City Youth in Tallahassee, Fla. is motivated to prevent homelessness, delinquency and dependency for youth.

“I don’t know why a bill would prohibit someone from furthering their education. It should be the exact opposite,” Priest said.

The bill was introduced by Republican Rep. John Tobia and would become effective July 1, 2015.

Tobia was elected into the Florida House of Representatives in 2008 and has been in the house ever since.

According to The Washington Times, over 58,000 college applicants claimed to be homeless in 2013.

“The bill will have a negative impact on students’ ability to pay college costs,” said Lisa Stewart. “This population of students will have to take out more student loans and increase indebtedness to continue their education.”

Stewart is the Financial Aid Director at Florida A&M University. FAMU does offer the homeless waiver through the Division of Student Affairs.

According to the Pew Research Center, millennials that receive a college degree make about $17,5000 more than those who just receive a high school diploma.

Priest believes that if these students have the desire to go to college the door of opportunity should stay open.

“Its one of those circumstance where anything that benefits homeless students should stand in place,” Priest said.

Many factors contribute to students becoming homeless. The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth released a report in 2013, to helping educators understand the roadblocks homeless students face and guidelines for them to pursue higher education. These issues are linked to general poverty, decrease in affordable housing and lack of family support.

Milonda Houston a graduating social work student from Miramar, Fla., takes this bill as a challenge.

“It actually makes me want to help others even more, when there are people writing bills that could hinder a person’s progress to a better life,” said Houston. “It makes me want to write to my legislators.”