There is no getting around the cost of college for a prospective student. It’s expensive and it’s likely only getting pricier as you’re reading this. But all hope is not lost. Even if you’re in a situation where you don’t have mom and dad’s checkbook to fall back on– a circumstance that many foster youth can relate to– you can still find ways to afford school. It all starts with searching for private scholarships.
There is money out there and it’s waiting for you.
Believe it or not, across the country there are organizations solely dedicated to providing money for youth to attend college. The key is finding them and completing an application.
Foster youth, like most teens preparing for college, might not have the first clue where or when to start looking for scholarships. But unlike most prospective students, foster teens might not have someone in their home to guide them through a somewhat complicated process.
That’s why it’s vital for foster teens to educate themselves early and often in regards to college applications and private scholarships. The search for private scholarships should start alongside the search for college, according to Foster and Adoptive Family Services’ Director of Scholarship Programs Millicent Barry.
“Everyone should apply for private scholarships,” Barry said. “You’re not going to lose money doing this. If it means getting free money you don’t have to pay back, it’s worth it.”
Private Scholarships for Foster Youth: Opportunities Nationwide
Resources such as Big Future by the College Board have scholarship search engines that allow youth to discover all the scholarships available to them nationwide by simply entering extensive personal data such as age, ethnic background, religious affiliations, organizations they are members of and majors they are considering.
For those thinking that there’s not anything out there for them, there is.
Do you love ducks? Well, there’s a scholarship for the best duck call. Are you really good at the game of marbles? There’s a scholarship for that. Or maybe you can make a really inventive and delicious sandwich. Yes, there’s a $25,000 scholarship for that.
There are also other scholarship search engines such as Fastweb, CollegeNET and School Soup that are good resources for overwhelmed youth looking for help.
Private Scholarships for Foster Youth: Opportunities in NJ
In New Jersey, there is a place for foster youth to go and get answers as well. Foster and Adoptive Family Services administers the New Jersey Foster Care Scholars Program, which provides financial and educational assistance for eligible youth.
However, the eligibility requirements are stringent and many foster, adoptive and kinship youth won’t meet the criteria set by state and federal legislation. But that doesn’t mean FAFS can’t help.
FAFS offers privately funded academic scholarships and opportunity grants for foster youth, youth who were in foster care, were adopted or have entered Kinship Legal Guardianship through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency or DCP&P in New Jersey.
From 1998 through 2014 , FAFS has awarded $168,750 worth of scholarships to 204 recipients.
This year, FAFS has eight grants available to foster youth. To learn more about these grants and scholarships or to apply, click here. There are also scholarships for foster, adopted and kinship youth available through organizations such as Foster Care to Success and the National Foster Parent Association.
It’s important, Barry said, for foster youth to apply for as many scholarships as they are eligible and really make an effort in their applications.
“Don’t go in expecting that you’re going to get it,” Barry said. “Do your best. No one is going to harass you to finish it. It’s competitive, so do it right.”