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HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) has released a new report offering insights into the Resident Opportunities and Self-Sufficiency (ROSS) for Education Project SOAR grant program. Awarded in 2017, SOAR grants enabled nine participating public housing agencies (PHAs) to hire educational navigators to assist youth residents of public housing and their families in submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the standard form used to apply for financial aid for higher education. The program’s aim was to increase college enrollment by removing a barrier to accessing needed financial aid. As part of the grant closeout process in 2019, PD&R staff conducted interviews with navigators and PHA staff to assess the program and determine factors critical to its success.
Several report findings indicate that the program achieved positive outcomes beyond increasing the number of FAFSA completions from participants. College visits, for example, help participants imagine continuing their education, and those who ultimately attend can help create a roadmap to college for younger siblings. The report also found a need for sustained and enhanced program support to fund training for navigators, transportation and other incidentals, and SAT/ACT fees. Overall, grantee PHAs found such value in the program that many are determining ways to continue operating it post-grant.
Find the full report on HUD User, the online clearinghouse for PD&R: