Figuring out how to pay for college is an essential step for anyone pursuing higher education. Students who have been in foster care may be eligible for special funds to help cover college costs.
For young adults who have been in foster care previously, or are currently in extended foster care, there are a variety of programs that offer financial aid resources:
- Some states offer programs that cover part or all of the cost of tuition if you’ve been in the foster-care system. You can find information on your state’s tuition assistance program. You could also learn about what tuition assistance your state offers, and how to qualify by asking your caseworker, or you can look up your state’s Higher Education Agency and reach out to them by email or phone.
- Chafee Education and Training vouchers provide eligible students with grants up to $5,000 per year for up to five years or until the state’s age limit. These funds can be combined with other grants and scholarships to help students avoid the need for student loans. Select your state to learn more, and note the Other ETV states link option at the bottom, if you don’t see your state listed.
- The National Foster Parent Association Scholarship provides five $1000 scholarships to foster youth each year.
You can find out about other school financial aid you might qualify for when you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Follow these special tips:
- Foster parents or legal guardians are NOT considered parents when you’re applying for financial aid. So you don’t list their income or other information on the FAFSA. As a foster youth, your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is generally ZERO, unless you personally have an annual income of over $10,300 and have to file a federal tax return.
- You are considered independent if you were ever deemed a ward of the court after age 13.
- You will need your foster care verification document. Ask your caseworker or agency for a letter verifying your foster care involvement for financial aid. This letter should include your dates and jurisdiction of your time in care and any resources you receive because you were in care. It may also list the programs for which you are eligible.
- Find more FAFSA tips for students in unique situations.