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Foster Youth at Penn State

Questions to Ask and Important Factors to Consider

Table of Contents

Is continued education the course of action for me? Am I ready? If yes, then where should I apply to College?

  1. Types of colleges:
    • Community College
    • 2 year programs
    • 4 year programs
    • Skill-based education versus liberal arts
  2. Things to look for in a college for higher likelihood of success once enrolled:
    • Foster youth support specific programs (sometimes called: Guardian Scholar Program, Renaissance Scholar Program, or similarly named)
    • Other support programs:
      • Trio Program
      • Student Support Service Program
  3. Big Tip: look for schools with Educational Opportunity Programs (EOPs)
    • EOPs are alternative admission programs that enable students who do not quite meet the standards set by a school’s admissions office to attend the school and receive special services the summer before the first day of class and throughout the first year
  4. Some major challenges for foster youth applying to college:
    • Transient schooling, meaning you have attended multiple schools in a very short period time
      • Explain any gaps or discrepancies in your transcripts when you send in your application in an addendum to your application or explanatory sections on your application
        • Tip: have your most recent school guidance counselor write to the admission’s office of the school
    • SAT Preparation
      • Look to see if your school offers free preparation classes
      • Take a free online or local practice exam
        • Application Fees
          • Most schools will waive application fees for special circumstances, such as a foster youth applying to college
          • Check the school’s webpage for a contact information to request a waiver application or a link to request a fee waiver

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I got in! Now What?

  1. Need remedial work?
    • Many foster youth need work in core subjects due to the nature of their lifestyles
    • This work can be done at local community colleges or by attending a few classes the summer before the first official semester of college
  2. Tuition and living expenses
    • Apply for scholarships (see below for list of national and local (Pennsylvanian) scholarships)
    • Work locally in on weekends or through a work-study program at your school
      • Work-study programs enable students to be paid while doing office related work in which conducting school work is acceptable
    • Attend community college for a year or two to save money and transfer to a major university or college
    • Attend a branch of the major university and live locally (especially if the cost of living is less because the area is more rural)

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Scholarship Information

National Funding Sources

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Fill out a FAFSA form here or call 1-800-4-FED-AID and make sure you watch for deadlines!

Chafee Grant Program


  • Grant that is awarded on a first come first serve basis: no deadline – submit as soon as possible!
  • Designed specifically for foster youth and former foster youth under age 22.
  • May be used for any accredited college, university, or vocational training program.


  • Must have a high school diploma or equivalent;
  • Demonstrate academic success or motivation in school or in training program (C average required);
  • If placed with legal guardian: youth are eligible if they were placed in a PLC/SPLC situation after age 16; and
  • If not in care on 18th birthday, youth 18-21 are eligible for Chafee services if they were in foster care after the age of 16.

National Foster Parent Association (NFPA)
Organizational website; Scholarship website


  • For foster youth who want to complete their GED or further their education beyond high school.

Contact Information:

Casey Family Scholars Scholarship  
Organizational website; Scholarship and Grant website

Additional Resources:

Foster Care to Success Scholarship Opportunity
(formally Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) Scholarship)

Organizational website; Scholarship website


  • Provides scholarships of up to $10,000 to young people, under the age of 25, who have spent at least 12 months in foster care and were not subsequently adopted.


  • Online Application, open between January 1 and March 31.

Horatio Alger Scholarship


  • Must be enrolled full time as a high school senior, progressing normally toward graduation in spring/summer, with plans to enter college no later than the fall following graduation;
  • intend to pursue a bachelor's degree at an accredited institution in the United States (students may start their studies at a two-year institution and then transfer to a four-year institution);
  • demonstrate critical financial need ($50,000 or less adjusted gross income per family is preferred; if higher, an explanation must be provided);
  • show involvement in co-curricular and community activities;
  • demonstrate academic achievement (minimum grade point average of 2.0);
  • be a resident of Pennsylvania; and
  • be a citizen of the United States.

Gear Up Grant (provided by the U.S. Department of Education)

Foster A Dream


  • Current or Former Foster Youth from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, and Solano Counties;
  • Be Under the Age of 25 on April 1 (of year entering college);
  • Accepted or Expect to be Accepted to an Accredited 4-year College/University, Community College, or Vocational Program ;
  • Minimum Cumulative GPA of 2.0; and
  • Past “Dare to Dream” Scholar Who Received One Year Scholarships Are Eligible to Reapply.

Deadline: Mid-April

Darko Rapotez Memorial College Scholarship Fund for Aged Out Foster Youth 


  • Designed specifically for youth who have “aged out” of foster care and are between the ages of 18-24;
  • May come from anywhere in the US as long as high school GPA is 3.0 or higher.

Note: scholarship meant for tuition and does not cover the cost of books, housing, transportation, and other high-education related costs. 

Capitol One Fostering a Future Scholarship – (Search “Application” to find application document.


  • Adopted from the United States foster care system at or after the age of 13;
  • Graduating high school seniors;
  • Applicants may only once;
  • Qualifying GPA – must be maintained or improved throughout the applicant’s senior year; and
  • Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

Tylenol® Scholarship 

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Scholarship Information

Pennsylvanian Funding Sources

Taylor J. Ertel Foster Children Foundation Scholarships


  • PA resident (youth or adult) attending a PA school who has been placed in foster care by a child welfare agency; and
  • Must show admitted to a program of study and that they have a plan to makes it possible to complete the program with the aid of scholarship. 

Pennsylvania State Foster Parent Association (PSFPA)


  • Open to foster youth who are currently in their senior year of high school;
  • Youth in both public and private foster care systems are eligible; and
  • Biological and adopted children of PSFPA members may also apply.

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Social Media and Other Resources

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