Educational Supports for Youth in Foster Care - Massachusetts

Date:

Support for Completing High School

Citation: DCF Perm. Plan. Pol. # 2013-01

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) expects youth in placement to attend school regularly, do their best in school, and graduate from high school or obtain a general educational development (GED) certificate.

Planning for Postsecondary Education

Citation: DCF Perm. Plan. Pol. # 2013-01

DCF expects youth in placement, whenever possible, to continue their education in college or a vocational program after high school.

Eligibility Requirements

Citation: DCF Perm. Plan. Pol. # 2013-01

Persons who are eligible for the State College Tuition and Fee Waiver Program include the following:

  • Youth who were in DCF custody, for at least 6 months, through age 18 and are unable to return home
  • Youth who were adopted through DCF
  • Youth who were placed in a DCF-sponsored guardianship through age 18

A young adult who has not earned a baccalaureate degree and meets the following conditions is eligible for the Foster Child Grant Program:

  • Is a permanent legal resident of Massachusetts
  • Is a U.S. citizen or noncitizen eligible under title IV regulations
  • Was placed in the custody of DCF through a care-and-protection petition
  • Remained in the care and custody of DCF until age 18 and has been unable to return home
  • Is not older than age 24
  • Voluntarily agrees to participate in educational support services offered by the Department of Social Services
  • Is enrolled full time (12 credits or its equivalent)
  • Has applied for financial aid, using the standard Free Application for Federal Student Aid
  • Is in compliance with applicable law regarding Selective Service
  • Is not in default of any Federal or State student loans for attendance at any institution or owed a refund for any previous financial aid received
  • Is in good standing and meets the institution's requirements for satisfactory academic progress

For the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program, the youth must have achieved a high school diploma or GED certificate to be eligible for ETV funds. In addition, the following eligibility conditions apply:

  • Youth who were adopted through DCF after reaching age 16
  • Youth who were placed in a DCF-sponsored guardianship with kin after age 16 through age 18
  • Youth who were in DCF custody until age 18, were unable to return home, and have not yet reached age 21

Youth who receive ETV funds prior to their 21st birthday will remain eligible until age 23.

Financial Supports for Postsecondary Programs

Citation: Ann. Laws Ch. 15A, § 19; DCF Perm. Plan. Pol. # 2013-01; DCF Website

The State College Tuition and Fee Waiver Program shall provide full tuition and fee waivers for any State-supported course offered by an institution at a public institution of higher education, including courses toward an undergraduate degree program, certificate program, short-term certificate program, and noncredit courses at each community college, State university and undergraduate campus of the University of Massachusetts for students who are not older than age 24 and who, while in the DCF custody, were adopted by an eligible Massachusetts resident or commonwealth employee, as determined by DCF. The commonwealth, not the institutions of public higher education, shall bear the cost of these waivers after all reimbursements from the Federal Government have been exhausted.

The program shall provide tuition and fee waivers for any person who, upon reaching age 18, is in the custody of DCF or is the subject of a legal guardianship sponsored by DCF. No such person shall be required to remain in the care of DCF beyond age 18 to qualify for these waivers. Persons who return to the care of DCF after age 18 may qualify for these waivers. The commonwealth, not the institutions of public higher education, shall bear the cost of these waivers after all reimbursements from the Federal Government have been exhausted.

In policy: Youth who remain in DCF custody until age 18, reconnect with DCF after turning age 18, were placed in a DCF-sponsored guardianship, or were adopted through DCF may be eligible for various educational supports up to age 25, including the following:

  • Foster Child Grant Program
  • ETV program
  • Tuition and Fee Waiver Program
  • William Warren Scholarship Program

Specific eligibility information regarding these programs may found on the DCF website.

From the DCF website: The State College Tuition and Fee Waiver Program waives the cost of tuition of State-supported classes only at Massachusetts public universities and community colleges. The waiver does not cover books or room and board.

The William Warren Scholarship provides financial assistance for any postsecondary certificate or degree-granting program. The scholarship is competitive, and students are evaluated on academic merit and financial need. Scholarships are granted once a year, and applications are submitted in the summer and awarded in the fall. All youth who were in DCF placement for a minimum of 1 year and have not reached age 25 are eligible to apply.

The federally funded ETV grant provides support for postsecondary educational or vocational training programs, including colleges and trade schools, and related costs of attendance (tuition, fees, room and board, books, transportation, and daycare), as defined in the Higher Education Act of 1965.