Foster Care Students Qualify For Tuition Waiver

Foster Care Students Qualify For Tuition Waiver

More than 800 young people in foster care in Pennsylvania could be eligible for college tuition waivers at in-state schools when they go into effect next year.

By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
For The Post Publications

HARRISBURG PA – A new law gives young people in Pennsylvania’s foster-care system a real chance to get a college education, according to the legal director of a state non-profit advocacy group, the Education Law Center.

Kids in foster care face obstacles to college that other students may not, especially as they age out of the system and begin living independently, the center’s Maura McInerney says. Under the Fostering Independence Through Education Act, signed into law on June 28, those with a high school diploma or GED can get a waiver on tuition and fees at any public or private college or university in the state.

“This new law will ensure that children who are in foster care can afford to attend college, many of whom are on their own and … don’t have the support and the safety net that other students would have while in college,” McInerney adds.

Waivers are available to students who were in foster care at age 16 or older, and can be used for five years up to age 26. The program takes effect in the 2020 fall semester. To remain eligible, students must maintain satisfactory academic progress in college classes. The law not only gives students waivers on tuition and fees, but it also provides help to get what they need to stay in school.

“Every student will have a point of contact while at college,” says McInerney. “That person will ensure that they can navigate the financial aid process, as well as find critical supports on campus.”

The bill had contained a provision requiring colleges to pay for housing, too, but that reportedly was dropped in negotiations to ensure the bill’s passage. “However, what we do see are a number of colleges and universities stepping up to the plate, and saying they will actually provide room and board to these students,” says McInerney.

Photo from Usaf, used under a Creative Commons license