College offers many valuable experiences for young adults. It provides not only educational and learning skills which will help in a successful career, but it also helps build important life skills: life skills about living away from their home, living with others, time management skills, and everyday skills of how to function independently as an adult. College is important to all, but maybe even more so for adopted children who often experience self-identity issues. However, one statistic shows that only 20% of adopted or foster children attend college.

Attending college comes at a high cost. Across the country, tuitions continue to rise at community colleges, universities, and private schools making it cost prohibitive for many. It is often less expensive to attend an “in-state” college, but even that financial benefit is dwindling.

Scholarships provide monetary assistance to many students. There are thousands of scholarships that are available for students based on various qualifications. Requirements may include academic success, financial need, area of study, or nationality.

Fortunately, there are many scholarships that are created for students who have been adopted. For information about the right adoption scholarship for you or your adopted students, click here and here.

There are many ways that these scholarships get their funding. Many of the available scholarships hold annual fundraisers to raise money for future student distribution. One of these scholarships is the SMART 529 college scholarship fund established by the West Virginia Treasurer’s Fund.

This fund has a personal connection to Tanner, and his parents Terry and Tiffany. Terry and Tiffany struggled with infertility and decided to become foster parents. That is how they were introduced to Tanner.

Their journey led from fostering to adoption. Thanks to the SMART 529 fund, Terry and Tiffany were given a monetary award to go towards Tanner’s future college fund. It is a small way that West Virginia and the Treasurer’s Office is working on improving that low statistic of college attendance within foster and adoptive youth.

On May 19, 2018, the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office hosted the SMART5.29K run. This is an annual run where all the monies and donations received, minus a small race fee, goes into a SMART529 College Savings Plan fund. This fund will then be distributed to children in West Virginia that were in foster care.

Too many children who have been in foster care or adoption have had setbacks. They may have experienced trauma and loss. Being given the opportunity to attend college will give youth an advantage with long-term effects.