Foster Care to College - Educational Stability for Foster Care Youth in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program

Postsecondary tuition waivers for eligible youth in foster care.

 

Pennsylvania’s Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program (FosterEd) seeks to remove barriers to higher education for youth who are or have been in foster care. The program provides tuition and fee waivers for eligible youth. Eligible Pennsylvania foster care youth will have greater access to postsecondary education in the state and an opportunity to graduate with less debt.

The program is administered collaboratively by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Departments of Education, Human Services, and Labor and Industry.

 

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Questions? 
Contact FosterEd  | 800-692-7392 | PHEAA: Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program
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Key Benefits and Facts

  • An eligible student’s remaining tuition and mandatory fees will be eliminated after all federal and state gift aid is applied.
  • Every school has a higher education Point of Contact (POC) for youth.
  • The program does not cover room and board. Postsecondary institutions are required to waive only tuition and mandatory fees.
  • Prospective youth must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program application.
  • Waivers began in fall 2020.
  • The tuition waiver may be applied up to five academic years (consecutive or not consecutive) or until age 26.

 

Key Resources

2020-21 Program Guidelines: PA Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program (FosterEd)
The program guidelines provide postsecondary institutions with the requirements for participation and administration of FosterEd for this program year. PHEAA will publish updates to this document if additional changes become necessary.

FosterEd Brochure

Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program (PHEAA)
The waiver program provides a waiver for tuition and mandatory fees charged by most postsecondary institutions located in the commonwealth for youth who are or were in foster care.

Pennsylvania Foster Care Point of Contact Directories
Current directories of K-12 education school foster care points of contact, higher education institution points of contact, and county children and youth agency (CCYA) Education Liaisons.

 

Eligibility

To be eligible for the tuition waiver, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a current Pennsylvania resident at the start and during the term for which the waiver was awarded.
  • Have graduated from high school or have received a commonwealth secondary school diploma.
  • Have not reached the age of 26 by July 1 of the upcoming academic year for which the FosterEd waiver is received.
  • Be identified as a youth who is in foster care, OR was discharged from foster care on or after attaining the age of 16, OR has exited foster care on or after age 16 to adoption or permanent legal guardianship.
  • Be eligible for services under ​Chafee Foster Care Independence Program.
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate, at least half the time in a postsecondary institution that is approved by the U.S. Department of Education for the Title IV student assistance programs in Pennsylvania.
  • Demonstrate financial need for the Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program as determined by the postsecondary institution.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by the postsecondary institution.
  • Not be in default on a federal student loan or a owe a refund on other Title IV aid.
  • File a FASFA application for Federal Student Aid for the academic year for which the waiver is being requested.
  • File an application for the Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program.
  • Have not previously received a waiver for five years (consecutive or not), defined as 10 semesters or the equivalent, for undergraduate study.

Eligibility Resources

 

Verification of Eligibility

Verification of eligibility will include documentation provided by the commonwealth courts, county children and youth agencies (CCYAs), private provider agencies, or the student’s legal representative.

Verification Resources

 

Participation

Foster youth must take the following steps:

  1. File a free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  2. Submit a Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program Application
  3. Enroll in an eligible Pennsylvania postsecondary institution

Participation Resources

 

Assistance in Higher Education by Point of Contact (POC)

Each postsecondary institution has a POC available to support eligible students throughout their college careers. Responsibilities of a POC include:

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for all eligible individuals applying to or attending the institution.
  • Assist in completing admissions and financial aid applications and identifying other scholarship and grant opportunities.
  • Obtain verification of foster care status on or after age 16 if needed for program eligibility.
  • Provide referrals for on and off-campus resources and support services.

High school students can also seek assistance from their school district’s foster care POC, school counselor, caseworker, Independent Living (IL) coordinator, or other school district or agency staff for information about the program.

Assistance Resources

 

Additional Foster Care to College Resources

2019 Act 16 Legislation
State legislation outlining Fostering Independence Through Education Tuition Waiver Program.

2020-21 Program Guidelines: PA Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program (FosterEd)
The program guidelines provide postsecondary institutions with the requirements for participation and administration of FosterEd for this program year. PHEAA will publish updates to this document if additional changes become necessary.

Campus Programming Directory For Foster Youth 
The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania has created a directory of PA postsecondary institutions that provides information on institutional supports and programs that can assist students with experience in foster care.

Foster Care Point of Contact Directory
The directory contains the following contacts/directories: LEA School Point of Contact, CCYA Education Liaison Directory, Regional Foster Care Office Directory, and Higher Education Point of Contact Directory.

Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program (FosterEd) Point of Contact (POC) FAQ
This FAQ provides an overview of FosterEd for Higher Education Points of Contact (POC).

Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program (PDE)
The program is being administered collaboratively by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Departments of Education, Human Services, and Labor and Industry.

Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program (PHEAA)
The waiver program provides a waiver for tuition and mandatory fees charged by most postsecondary institutions located in the commonwealth for youth who are or were in foster care.

Higher Education Guide: Introduction (Juvenile Law Center)
This guide aims to provide information for advocates and supporters of youth in the child welfare system about how to leverage key resources available to youth with experience in foster care in Pennsylvania including the tuition waivers available through the Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program.

Higher Education Point of Contact Directory
In higher education, single points of contact are designated safe and supportive college administrators committed to helping foster care youth successfully navigate the college-going process.

Resource Library by the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research
The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania has compiled a foster care to college resource library, focused on making higher education more accessible and successful for youth with experience in the foster care system.

 

Professional Development

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