Helping foster kids pay for college

Paying for college as a foster child is usually difficult. The United States Department of Health and Human Services Estimates that over 100,000 children live in foster care awaiting adoption. Sadly, only 50,000 of these are adopted annually. Most foster children adopted after attaining 13 years do not qualify for a full scholarship at a private school. They, however, qualify for a full Pell Grant, which falls short of paying all costs of college.

Many children end up graduating with hefty student loan debts.Luckily, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 strives towards helping foster kids go to college. It includes foster children and orphans among independent students who need help from Federal and State governments as well as the community.

How Can I Go About Helping My Foster Child Pay for College?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) considers children adopted from foster centers at 13 years of age and older as independent students. Visit FAFSA’s website and create an account here

If you are a foster child adopted from a care system at 16 years or older, you may qualify for student funding from the Education and Training Voucher (ETV).  This system provides for a maximum of $5,000 annually for college students. It is administered using state funds.

How Can My State Help Me With Foster Education Fund?

Almost all the states in US have specific fund programs to help children adopted from foster care pay for college education. While some states run full scholarship programs, others extend waivers on college tuition.

Examples of states that offer tuition waivers are Florida, Kentucky, Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, Texas, Massachusetts and Virginia. These waivers are a certain percentage of the annual cost of fees, tuition, room, and boarding.

The qualifications for these state-engineered waivers vary from one state to another. This is because the regulations were enforced at different times. Most of these states support foster children in public universities, vocational training schools, and public community schools.

States that offer other college programs include New Jersey, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Illinois. Parents should obtain information for their foster children from post-adoption workers at the respective offices of adoption.

Different states have different prerequisites for consideration. Examples are attaining a certain score in several grades, enrollment in state programs for higher education and meeting certain behavioral requirements among others.

Are There Non-Governmental Organizations that Help Forster Children with College?

You can secure financial assistance for your education from numerous community organizations and scholarships across the country. For example, Fastweb is an online tool that connects thousands of foster children to grants, awards, and scholarships.

The VIP Voice Scholarship awards students up to $5,000 worth of student education aid. On the other hand, you can qualify for the $2,000 given by the “No Essay” Scholarship

The Education Coordinating Council in the Los Angeles County lists a number of scholarships. These student financial aids are set aside for foster youth as well as those disadvantaged by disability and other challenges.

The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) helps foster youth to pay for education after high school. Usually, the association asks each applicant to write an essay and submit it alongside other application documents

The Casey Family Program is a system that seeks to improve the welfare of foster children. It provides educational help to these children through several organizations such as the Foster Care to Success.

You are eligible for funding if you spent at least a year in foster care before attaining the age of 18. The annual scholarship for individuals is at least $1,500 and can go up to $6,000. Students under 25 years who are attending national colleges and universities are encouraged to apply. If you have ‘aged out’ of your foster care center, you could qualify for the Darko Rapotez Memorial College Scholarship Fund. The fund is administered by Love our Children USA and awards students on the basis of financial needs and academic excellence.

Other non-governmental programs that offer education aid to foster children are Foster Care to Success (Orphan Foundation of America), Sponsored Scholarship Program, Horatio Alger Scholarships and North American Council on Adoptable Children among others.

Which Universities Offer Scholarships to Foster Children?

Numerous public and private universities provide college access to former foster children. Since each program has its own application protocols and qualifications, it is best to approach individual administrators. Examples of these are University of Alaska, University of Connecticut, College of all Texans and many others.

What Are Common Degrees and Potential Career after University?

According to the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, a majority of foster youth end up in rewarding careers after college life. To investigate how these graduates are faring in the labor market, the school conducted a study in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois.

The study discovered that foster youth are less likely to secure employment than their advantaged counterparts. Further, those who find jobs earn lower wages. Positive experiences in university and college increase the well-being of students who are former foster children. The absence of neglect and abuse leads to educational success.  

Half of all foster youths who enroll for college and university actually graduate. Most of these youths choose to study health-related, artistic and social studies. Examples of favorable degrees are public health, pharmacy, accountancy, communication, sociology, computer science and agriculture among others.

Further, they are absorbed in various companies, institutes and organizations. There is little if any difference between the job market absorption rates of students from foster systems and their other counterparts.

What is the Impact of Financial Aid to Foster Youth?

Studies compare the lives of former foster youths who went to college and those who didn’t. An overwhelming majority of university graduates are doing far much better than high school graduates.