Accessing Higher Education Without Parental Support (Youth & Young Adult Legal Issues Edition)


By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)

Federal education laws have been passed to help youth experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity access higher education.
Resource Information

Who qualifies for support under these laws?

Youth who qualify have run away or have been asked to leave home by a parent or guardian.

No matter the reason you may be living on your own and responsible for yourself, you have the option to seek opportunities after high school. Whether your goal is to attend a four-year university, community college, or a certificate training program, help is available.

What supports are available?

You may qualify for:

  • Fee waivers for the SAT/ACT;
  • FAFSA application without parent/guardian information or signature;
  • Initial deposit for school or dorm;
  • Housing during school breaks;
  • Help with your basic needs: clothing, food, supplies for school; and
  • Additional educational supports required to succeed in classes.

Is there someone I can contact if I need help accessing higher education?

If you are still enrolled in high school or recently graduated, you need to contact your school district’s Homeless Education Liaison. By law, each school site must have someone assigned to that role. They will help you access support.

Are there any other supports?

  • Most university and college campuses already have built in supports. They want you to succeed! Look for departments named Student Support Services or Education Opportunity Center. These are the offices where you can find connections to resources and additional information on what your school has to offer.
  • Find resources on the National Center for Homeless Education website.

Take Action


Legal Help

  • Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides free civil, non-criminal legal help to eligible clients. Apply for free legal help by calling 1-800-666-6899 or applying online.
  • Tribal communities may have additional educational supports. If you are a tribal member living in a tribal community, contact MLSA to apply for free legal help on your specific situation at 1-800-666-6899 or by applying online.
  • Contact your nearest Self Help Law Center for free legal information and forms.

Non-Legal Resources

  • The Youth Homelessness Development Project (YHDP) is designed to support Montana service providers in the development and implementation of a coordinated community approach to preventing and ending youth homelessness. More information is avaliable at the YHDP website.
  • County resource guides provide an up-to-date list of avaliable help centers.
Find more resources using our interactive Legal Guide.
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