Educational Supports for Youth in Foster Care - South Carolina

Date: April 2020

Support for Completing High School

Citation: Code of Regs., § 114-595; DSS Pol. & Proc. Man. Ch. 5, § 530; DSS Chafee Guidelines

Educational services shall begin with informal and formal assessments of skills, learning styles, aptitudes, and abilities and should lead to the appropriate resource (e.g., public or private secondary or postsecondary education, remedial classes, or other vocational education/training).

In policy: Chafee program services shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Assistance in obtaining a high school diploma
  • Career exploration
  • Vocational training
  • Job placement and retention

From the guidelines: An adult education program helps youth to attain a high school degree or its equivalent. Youth also may receive funding assistance to complete supplemental coursework to achieve goals. Examples of adult education items include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Cost and materials for a general educational development (GED) program
  • Study skills training
  • Alternative educational programs
  • Vocational coursework

Services and supplies needed to meet a youth's educational goals include the following:

  • Tutoring
  • Summer school for advanced studies and/or academic credits
  • Books and supplies for specialized classes, such as lab fees; special calculators; uniforms for classes such as cosmetology, nursing, etc.; and insurance for school-issued equipment
  • Expenses for school-sponsored educational field trips
  • Senior expenses, including the following:
    • Senior prom ticket, attire, pictures, and personal care services
    • Senior fees, including graduation invitations, cap and gown, yearbook, diploma plaque, high school senior ring, or dog tag
    • Senior pictures

Planning for Postsecondary Education

Citation: DSS Pol. & Proc. Man. Ch. 5, § 530

Chafee program services shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Preparation and assistance for postsecondary training and/or education
  • Provision of Education and Training Vouchers (ETVs)

The caseworker shall refer youth in foster care who are interested in attending college to school guidance staff for assistance with the following:

  • Participating in American College Test (ACT)/Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) preparation classes or courses
  • Deciding whether and when to take the ACT or the SAT
  • Learning how to apply for multiple grants and scholarships

The caseworker shall explore special State need-based grants that give priority to youth in foster care. HOPE scholarships are available to students who graduate with a B average but do not have the test scores or class rank for other scholarships. Other resources for talented youth in foster care who qualify include LIFE (Legislative Incentives for Future Excellence) scholarships and Palmetto Fellows scholarships.

Youth shall be encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, either online or at school, as early as possible. The youth should also obtain copies of the financial aid print-out and the desired school's billing statement and maximum financial aid award.

The caseworker shall assess the future financial needs and living arrangements of the youth. In collaboration with State program staff, the caseworker shall review all grants, scholarships, and loans that the youth has been officially awarded. On a case-by-case basis, a determination will be made as to the availability and amount of Chafee and ETV program funds and whether a board payment can be accessed.

Eligibility Requirements

Citation: Code of Regs. § 62-465; DSS Pol. & Proc. Man. Ch. 5, § 530

To be eligible for a South Carolina Need-Based Grant each academic year, the student must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a 'needy student' following a financial need analysis, as established under title IV regulations for determining eligibility for Federal student aid
  • File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident that meets the definition of an eligible noncitizen whose lawful presence in the United States has been verified at the time of enrollment at the institution
  • Be a resident of the State of South Carolina for 12 consecutive months
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a part-time or full-time degree-seeking student in an eligible program of study at an eligible public institution in South Carolina
  • Be enrolled and attending or have completed at the time of the grant disbursement in a minimum of 6 credit hours, if part-time for the semester, or 12 credit hours, if full-time for the semester
  • Certify that he or she has not been adjudicated delinquent or been convicted or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any felonies or any second or subsequent alcohol or drug-related offenses under the laws of this or any other State or under the laws of the United States
  • Verify that he or she does not owe a refund or repayment on a State grant, a Pell Grant, or a Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and is not in default on a loan under the Federal Perkins Loan or Federal Stafford Loan Programs
  • Reapply for the Need-Based Grant each academic year and meet all eligibility requirements annually

Students who have previously earned credit hours and are applying for the South Carolina Need-Based Grant for the first time must have earned at least a cumulative 2.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale for graduation purposes at the end of the academic year before being awarded the grant.

Students enrolled part-time or full-time may not receive a Need-Based Grant for more than a maximum of eight full-time equivalent semesters. Students may only receive Need-Based Grant funding for up to two semesters of the academic year. Students who have already been awarded their first baccalaureate degree are not eligible to receive a Need-Based Grant.

In policy: Chafee program services shall be provided to the following:

  • All youth in foster care from age 14 up to the 21st birthday
  • All young adults age 18 to 21 who reached the age of majority in foster care, including those in aftercare placement and those out of care
  • Youth who are currently in adoption preservation placement
  • Youth who left foster care due to reunification at or after their 14th birthday who have been in care for at least 6 months
  • Youth who left foster care due to adoption, kinship care, or guardianship at or after their 16th birthday who have been in care for at least 6 months

ETV funds are available for youth/young adults in all Chafee program-eligible categories above up to the recipient's 26th birthday as long as the youth/young adult is enrolled in a postsecondary education or training program and is making satisfactory progress toward completion of that program. In no event may an ETV recipient participate in the program for more than 5 years (whether or not the years are consecutive).

Youth must have entered foster care as a result of an allegation of abuse or neglect. The case causing the youth's removal must have resulted in a finding of abuse or neglect on its merits. While in foster care, youth are eligible for services, but if the case is not founded before the youth's 18th birthday (or eligible age for those who obtain positive permanency), such youth are not eligible for Chafee program-funded services.

Financial Supports for Postsecondary Programs

Citation: Code of Regs. § 62-470; DSS Pol. & Proc. Man. Ch. 5, § 530

The Need-Based Grants Program for the public institutions will be campus-administered. Grant funds will supplement the student financial aid awards administered by the participating public colleges and universities.

The participating institution will make awards in amounts to be defined in accordance with the Need-Based Grants Program regulation and criteria, but not to exceed $1,250 per eligible part-time student and $2,500 per eligible full-time student per academic year, based on the institution€™s allocated funds for Need-Based Grants and other financial aid awarded to individual applicants. A maximum of 50 percent of the grant shall be disbursed for two terms of the academic year, assuming continued eligibility.

Need-Based Grants are to be used only toward payment for the cost-of-attendance, as defined by title IV regulations, for the academic year for which the award is made at the designated institution. The maximum amount awarded shall not exceed the cost-of-attendance for any year.

In determining the amount awarded for the Need-Based Grant, all other sources of gift aid, including Federal, State, private and institutional funds, must be applied to the total cost-of-attendance before calculating the unmet need and awarding the grant. The Need-Based Grant shall be awarded only after all other sources of gift aid have been exhausted. Adjustments to the financial aid package will be made to the Need-Based Grant in accordance with prescribed title IV regulations in order to prevent an over-award.

Institutions must give first priority and award the maximum allowable Need-Based Grant ($2,500 if full-time or $1,250 if part-time) to students who are in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS). However, institutions should not award the maximum amount if, by doing so, this causes the student to exceed the unmet need according to title IV regulations. Students who may be eligible under this provision are responsible for contacting the institution and providing official verification to the institution that he/she is in custody of DSS. Acceptable verification shall include a letter from DSS.

In policy: Youth may be able to receive federally funded ETV funds up to a maximum of $5,000 per year, as long as funds are available. The awarding of ETV funds depends on the cost of the school and the amount of grants/scholarships the youth receives. The award is to be applied to all costs associated with the cost of attendance but (when combined with the youth's other funds) may not exceed the cost of attendance.

If a youth does not use all the ETV funds during the fall or spring semesters, the remaining amount can be used for summer school.