I adopted a special needs foster child when he was 11 years old. I
have been told he does not qualify for any aid. I recently learned
that if I would have adopted him at age 13 he would of received a full
scholarship. My son wants to attend a private college at
approximately $43,000 per year. Do you have any information on
grants or scholarship for former special needs foster children?
Get Your Custom List of Scholarships to Help Pay for School. Sign Up Now!
Fastweb is your connection to scholarships, financial aid & more.
You are to be commended for adopting a foster child. According to the
US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 100,000 children
in foster care are waiting for adoption, but only about 50,000 are adopted
each year. Visit AdoptUSKids.org
for more information about foster care and adoption.
It is unlikely that a foster child adopted after reaching age 13 would
have qualified for a full
scholarship at a private
college. Rather, students who
are in foster care, aged out of foster care or were adopted out of
foster care after reaching age 13 are considered automatically
independent on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA). Often this means that such children have a zero expected
family contribution (EFC), which qualifies them for a full Pell
Grant. But a full Pell Grant falls short of covering all college
costs, except perhaps at a community college. In most cases a foster
child will graduate from college with significant amounts of student loan
Independent student status is defined by section 480(d)(1) of the
Higher Education Act of 1965 [20 USC 1087vv(d)(1)]. The College Cost
Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-84) and Higher Education
Opportunity Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-315) changed the definition of
independent student to include any student who "is an orphan, in
foster care, or a ward of the court, or was an orphan, in foster care,
or a ward of the court at any time when the individual was 13 years of
age or older."
This is in contrast with the previous statutory language, which did
not mention foster care explicitly, just orphans and wards of the
court. The previous statutory language also required the student to
either currently be an orphan or ward of the court, or to have been
one through age 18. The law was changed to allow teenage foster care
children to be adopted without losing eligibility for federal student
Foster care students face special challenges
and are less likely to
enroll and graduate from college. For example, only 0.6% of
undergraduate students identified themselves as orphans or wards of
the court in 2007-08, based on data from the 2007-08 National
Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). This suggests that they are
half as likely as other students to enroll in college. Almost a third
(32.7%) of students who were orphans or wards of the court under age
24 in 2003-04 graduated with an undergraduate degree or certificate by
2009, compared with almost half (49.6%) of all other undergraduate
students, based on data from the 2009 follow-up to the 2003-04
Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS:04/09) longitudinal study.
While foster children face many challenges on their way to a college
education, it is possible to succeed.
Derrius Quarles, who spent 9 years in the foster care system in the
Chicago area, won scholarships from the Horatio Alger Association of
Distinguished American Scholarship Program, Coca-Cola Scholarship
Foundation, Dell Scholars Program and Gates Millennium Scholars, among
others, earning him the title
Million Dollar Scholar
His success should be an inspiration to all foster care youth.
Most private scholarships for foster care students are restricted to children
who are currently in foster care or who aged out of foster care. There
are some for students who were adopted out of foster care, but these
generally have geographic restrictions or are limited to students who
are enrolled at specific colleges. For example, the
Kansas Foster and Adoptive Children Scholarship Fund
from the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation is limited to
students who are or were foster children in the state of Kansas.
Students should use the free Fastweb scholarship matching service to
find scholarships that match their background situation. Fastweb
enforces the scholarship's geographic and other restrictions, ensuring
that the student sees only the scholarships for which he or she is
eligible. Be sure to answer the optional questions, some of which
relate to adoption status. Fastweb will also match the student to
other relevant scholarships, such as the
Horatio Alger National Scholarship
for high school seniors who have "faced and overcome great obstacles
in their young lives".
There are also several national scholarships for former foster
children and adopted children. The
Fostering a Future Scholarship
is restricted to children adopted out of foster care after reaching
Foster Care to Success
Casey Family Scholars Program
which provides scholarships to former foster youth.
National Foster Parent Association
sponsors the NFPA Youth Scholarship
The Orphan Society of America
provides college scholarships for individuals who were orphaned by violence.
Some states provide student financial aid or other assistance to
children who spent time in the foster care system or who were adopted
out of the foster care system. These scholarships and tuition waivers
are usually restricted to students who enroll in the state's public
colleges and universities. Funding may be restricted to students whose
families previously received
Some programs are limited to students who are in foster care or aged
out of foster care, excluding students who were adopted out of foster