Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Paul A. Toro


Empirical research has been limited with respect to homelessness among college undergraduates. Research on educational outcomes has been limited to K-12th grade, but what is known points to worse outcomes for people who are homeless. The National Coalition for the Homeless (2014) reported that 75% of homeless or runaway teenagers drop out of school. Furthermore, while federal funding though the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act has been able to help younger students, funding for homeless youth considering or attending college is minimal. Recently, some more attention has been given to this issue through the College Cost Reduction Access Act (CCRAA) which allows unaccompanied homeless youth to be considered independent students when they file for federal financial aid. FAFSA data from 2013, the first time students were asked if they were homeless, noted that more than 30,000 students had answered yes (Garrick, 2014). However, the same article pointed out that many students would be reluctant to admit homelessness or they may not see their situation as being homeless (Garrick, 2014).

The current study aimed to first describe a sample of college undergraduates who had any experience of homelessness or precarious housing in the previous year (N = 30), then the study compared an additional sample of homeless or precariously housed undergraduates to a group of students with stable housing (N = 113). Overall, the findings confirms one thing for sure: unstable housing has a negative impact on college students in many different domains of their lives. Several analyses indicated that homeless and precariously housed students differed significantly from stably housed students with respect to educational outcomes, physical health, recent stressful events, etc.

The current study provides evidence that more attention needs to be directed at college undergraduates with unstable housing, so that the cycle of poverty may begin to diminish and these students may also be set up for academic and career success. Hopefully, the findings from this study allow for further exploration of homeless undergraduates including learning what the prevalence of this problem is as well as how it can be effectively addressed.