The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced the agency is making $2 million in grants available to help low-income families and young people apply for federal aid for college and other post-secondary educational opportunities. The funding is being offered through HUD’s longstanding Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) Program. The available funding will support ‘Education Navigators’ in up to six Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) across the country.
Increased access to higher education can significantly improve life outcomes. The Department of Education estimates that those who earn a bachelor’s degree earn two-thirds more than those with only a high school diploma or an average of $1 million more in lifetime earnings. In addition, college graduates are far less likely to face unemployment. It’s also estimated that within the next four years, two-thirds of all new full-time jobs will require a college education.
HUD Secretary Julián Castro says, “Many families find the cost of higher education prohibitive, but know that a degree or training beyond high school is essential to be competitive in today’s 21st century global economy. By helping students access federal financial aid, HUD is lifting up students to overcome financial challenges and reach their full potential.”
HUD’s ROSS Program encourages local, innovative strategies that link public housing assistance with public and private resources to enable participating families to increase earned income, reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance, and make progress toward achieving economic independence and housing self-sufficiency. The ROSS for Education Program, also known as Project SOAR (Students + Opportunities + Achievements = Results), will support hundreds of young people between the ages of 15–20 to apply for U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Lourdes Castro Ramírez, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, adds, “By investing in our youth and communities, we’re helping to unlock the promise of higher education for all. Project SOAR will help students in HUD-assisted households to access opportunity and achieve their dreams.”
Project SOAR is one of several HUD initiatives to increase access to federal financial aid for HUD-assisted families and students:
- HUD is working with the Department of Education to better understand FASFA completion and educational attainment of HUD-assisted tenants through data sharing.
- Alongside the White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, HUD is exploring whether behaviorally informed messages can increase completion of the FAFSA among students with housing assistance.