Did you know there is an exemption from tuition and fees for foster care children to go to a University in Texas or other public college? Years after Corey Vollette, a foster youth, dropped out of high school and decided to go to college, it was too late for him. The New York Times reports, “Since 1993, Texas has offered tuition waivers for certain students at public institutions of higher education who were formerly in the foster care system. Currently, students must take at least one college course by the age of 25 to lock in the benefits.” By the time Vollette, now 30, received his G.E.D. and enrolled in Austin Community College, he was 27.
“I wish someone had told me just to sign up for one community college class earlier,” Vollette said. “I could have used just a little bit of guidance.”
This program set up by the state sounds “too good to be true”, but it is true. So why have Foster youths been aging out of tuition aid? Policy makers of the state are looking to increase awareness of the benefits and reduce the number of foster care youths who fall through the cracks.
An analysis from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services gives “a very rough estimate.” Forty-nine thousand former foster youths are eligible for the waiver, but data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating board showed fewer the 3,700 students are took advantage of the tuition waiver in 2013. That’s around 45,300 kids from the foster care system aging out of tuition aid! That’s the number of people who missed an amazing opportunity to better themselves and their careers.
If you yourself have come from the foster care system, act NOW and see if there are opportunities for yourself for higher education. If you are a foster parent, make sure your teens are aware of opportunities like this in your state.
Written by J.R. Timothy