Many young kids across the country struggle with deciding on their future career while they are growing up. This involves navigating how they will be able to afford to go to college to pursue whatever they decide on. Many people struggle with this and end up putting their dreams on the backburner. This is especially so for foster children who spend most of their time focusing on how they will support themselves once they are out of the foster care system. Fortunately, a new Pennsylvania law was signed recently that makes this future easier for foster children.
Fostering Independence Through Education Act
The state of Pennsylvania has 25,441 children in foster care. Like all kids, they have dreams of pursuing an education that will be the foundation of their career. However, this can be difficult for them to afford. While 70% of foster children want to go to college, their attendance is less than half the rate of their peers. In addition to this, only about 14% of them go on to earn their degree.
While many foster children qualify for different financial aid packages and grants On June 28, 2019, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania signed a law that has the potential to change the lives of many kids across the state. After taking two years to reach the Governor’s desk, the law allows foster kids to go to college tuition-free. The Fostering Independence Through Education Act waives this tuition for kids who were in the foster care at the age of 16 years or older. This includes kids who aged out of the system or were adopted.
Under this new law, all Pennsylvania colleges, public universities, private universities, community colleges, and state schools will begin accepting these waivers for the fall 2020 semester. These cover application fees as well and can be used either up to five years or when a student reaches the age of 26. In addition to this, the law requires colleges to collect and report data to government agencies with the intention of improving success among foster kids.
It is important to note that the schools must also offer an individual to assist the kids in navigating the financial aid process. This is because the student is required to use the financial aid, grants, and scholarships available to them before waiving the tuition.
The goal of the new law is to create more opportunities for foster children that were not available to them before. While opposition and concerns regarding the bill exist, compromises were made to get the bill signed by Governor Wolf. Over the next few months, advocates and school officials from around Pennsylvania will meet to discuss the details of the waiver program so that it may begin.
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Anderson, Converse & Fennick is an experienced law firm in York County, Pennsylvania focusing on Education Law, Family Law, Estate Planning, and Civil Litigation matters. If you need a knowledgeable attorney that will effectively represent your interests, contact Anderson, Converse & Fennick today.