Did you know that if you were in foster care for even one day after your 13th birthday, you’re eligible to receive enough financial aid to pay for community college, four-year universities and colleges, and graduate with money leftover in your bank account?
Financial aid is an untapped resource for foster youth simply because most aren’t aware of their eligibility or don’t know how to apply. The amount of financial aid available to current and former foster youth can transform the concept of college from something unattainable to an achievable goal.
Foster Care College Grants
In California, there are four main types of aid that you are eligible for as a current or former foster youth. All are grants, meaning you never have to pay back the money you receive.
Federal Pell Grant
This grant is a form of federal financial aid available to all students that are U.S. citizens (or eligible non-citizens) and meet certain income and education requirements.
You can receive up to $6,095 per academic year plus $3,048 if enrolled during the summer. This grant can be used at public or private, two or four year universities or colleges in California or out of state.
The Cal Grant is a form of state aid for California residents who attend college in California. Students attending four-year colleges and universities will often receive this grant.
This grant can help pay tuition and fees plus up to $1,672 per year for the cost of living. Eligibility requirements include California residents or California Dream Act eligible students (which includes not only dreamers, but all undocumented students), high school graduates with at least a 2.0 GPA, and must be enrolled at least part time in college.
The Chafee Grant is a grant that is only for foster youth. If you were in care between the ages of 16 to 18 and are not yet 26 years old, you can qualify for this $5,000 grant.
You can use this grant at public or private colleges, universities or qualified career and technical schools in California or out of state. Certain financial needs and education requirements must be met.
California Community College Promise Grant
This grant guarantees free tuition at all California community colleges. This is for students with financial need, who are California residents or California Dream Act eligible. Foster youth can maintain this waiver regardless of academic standing.
To receive these foster care college grants, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This application takes your income into consideration to determine how much support you will need to pay for college in the form of grants and loans.
If you want to access the Pell grant, Cal Grant or Promise Grant, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA. The Chafee Grant is a separate application on the California Student Aid website, but to be eligible you must also complete the FAFSA.
You can apply for financial aid as early as October 1st the year before you start college. The earlier you apply the better, as this will ensure you receive all eligible aid.
As of October 1, 2019, FAFSA for the 2020-2021 academic year is available.
Preparing For College
If you’re planning on attending college, you should be studying for college entry exams like the SAT or ACT and considering future career options. Luckily, our free portal of resources available to all iFoster members includes incredible tutoring and mentorship opportunities to help you study and plan ahead.
Taking the leap to enter higher education can be intimidating, but with iFoster — you’re never alone. If you have any questions, please contact Robyn Gonzales at robyn@iFoster.org or 530-562-4206.