Educational Supports for Youth in Foster Care - Texas
Support for Completing High School
Citation: Educ. Code §§ 25.007; 33.007
In recognition of the challenges faced by students who are homeless or in substitute care, the Texas Education Agency shall assist the transition of students who are homeless or in substitute care from one school to another by doing the following:
- Developing procedures for awarding credit, including partial credit if appropriate, for course work, including electives, completed by the student while enrolled at another school
- Promoting practices that facilitate access by the student to extracurricular programs, summer programs, credit transfer services, electronic courses, and after-school tutoring programs at nominal or no cost
- Establishing procedures to lessen the adverse impact of the movement of the student to a new school
- Entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) regarding the exchange of information, as appropriate, to facilitate the transition of students in substitute care from one school to another
- Developing procedures for allowing the student who was previously enrolled in a course required for graduation the opportunity, to the extent practicable, to complete the course, at no cost to the student, before the beginning of the next school year
- Ensuring that the student who is not likely to receive a high school diploma before the fifth school year following the student's enrollment in grade 9, as determined by the district, has the student's course credit accrual and personal graduation plan reviewed
- Designating at least one agency employee to act as a liaison officer regarding educational issues related to students in the conservatorship of DFPS
- Providing other assistance, as identified by the agency
Each school counselor at an elementary, middle, or junior high school shall advise students and their parents or guardians regarding the importance of postsecondary education, coursework designed to prepare students for postsecondary education, and financial aid availability and requirements. The information provided must include a discussion of the disadvantages of taking courses to prepare for a high school equivalency examination relative to the benefits of taking courses leading to a high school diploma.
Planning for Postsecondary Education
Citation: Educ. Code §§ 25.007; 33.007; 51.9356; Fam. Code § 264.1212
The agency shall assist students who are homeless or in substitute care by doing the following:
- Encouraging school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to provide services for a student who is homeless or in substitute care in transition when applying for admission to postsecondary study and when seeking sources of funding for postsecondary study
- Ensuring that a student in substitute care who is in grade 11 or 12 be provided information regarding tuition and fee exemptions under § 54.366 for dual-credit or other courses provided by a public institution of higher education for which a high school student may earn joint high school and college credit
Each school counselor at an elementary, middle, or junior high school shall advise students and their parents or guardians regarding the importance of postsecondary education, coursework designed to prepare students for postsecondary education, and financial aid availability and requirements. The information provided must include the following:
- The importance of postsecondary education
- Financial aid eligibility
- Instruction on how to apply for Federal financial aid
- The availability of Education and Training Vouchers (ETVs) and tuition and fee waivers to attend an institution of higher education, as provided by § 54.366, for a student who is or was previously in the conservatorship of DFPS
Each institution of higher education shall designate at least one employee of the institution to act as a liaison officer for current and incoming students at the institution who are or were formerly in the conservatorship of the DFPS. To the extent allowed by State or Federal law, the institution shall identify those students from information provided to the institution in admission or financial aid applications or other available resources.
The liaison officer shall provide the students with information regarding support services and other resources available to the students at the institution and any other relevant information to assist the students.
Each school district, in coordination with DFPS, shall facilitate the transition of each child enrolled in the district who is eligible for a tuition and fee waiver under § 54.366, Education Code, and who is likely to be in the conservatorship of DFPS on the day preceding the child's 18th birthday, to an institution of higher education by doing the following:
- Assisting the child with the completion of any applications for admission or for financial aid
- Arranging and accompanying the child on campus visits
- Assisting the child in researching and applying for private or institution-sponsored scholarships
- Identifying whether the child is a candidate for appointment to a military academy
- Assisting the child in registering and preparing for college entrance examinations, including, subject to the availability of funds, arranging for the payment of any examination fees by DFPS
- Coordinating contact between the child and a liaison officer for students who were formerly in DFPS's conservatorship
Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 700.1613; 1615; 1621; 1630
Youth in one of the following categories can be eligible to participate in the ETV program:
- Is at least age 16 and likely to remain in foster care until age 18
- Is not yet age 21 but aged out of foster care
- Is not yet age 21 and was adopted or exited to the permanency care assistance program from foster care after turning age 16
If a student is already participating in the ETV program when turning age 21, the student may remain eligible for assistance until age 23, as long as the student is making satisfactory progress toward completion of postsecondary education or vocational training, as defined by the institution the student is attending.
To qualify for financial assistance under the ETV program, an eligible youth must meet the following criteria:
- Have a high school diploma or the equivalent
- Be enrolled in an institution of higher education that falls within one of the following categories:
- An accredited or preaccredited public or nonprofit institution that provides a bachelor's degree or not less than a 2-year program that provides credit toward a degree or certification
- An accredited or preaccredited public or nonprofit institution that provides not less than a 1-year program of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation
- An accredited or preaccredited public, nonprofit, or a private institution that has been in existence for at least 2 years and that provides a program of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation
- Complete and file an application and required documentation with the ETV coordinator
To remain eligible for the ETV program, the student must do the following:
- Maintain satisfactory progress toward completion of postsecondary education or vocational training, as defined by the institution the student is attending
- Submit documentation to establish that minimum enrollment requirements are met and that satisfactory progress is being made
The following populations are eligible for the Texas Tuition and Fee Waiver, regardless of whether or not parental rights are terminated:
- Youth age 14 or older who are in DFPS' permanent managing conservatorship on or after the effective date of this rule, and who subsequently exit conservatorship to the legal responsibility of a parent
- Youth age 16 or older who are in DFPS' temporary managing conservatorship on or after the effective date of this rule, and who subsequently exit conservatorship to the legal responsibility of a parent
If, after exiting the foster care system, the youth returns to DFPS conservatorship, the youth's eligibility will be based on his or her current foster care circumstances.
The student must enroll in an institution of higher education no later than the student's 25th birthday to receive the waiver. The student must meet any other applicable statutory requirement concerning the waiver for students exempted by Texas Education Code § 54.366.
Financial Supports for Postsecondary Programs
Citation: Educ. Code §§ 54.366; 54.367; Admin. Code Tit. 40, §§ 700.1611; 1617; 1619
A student is exempt from the payment of tuition and fees charged by an institution of higher education if the student meets the following criteria:
- The student was under the conservatorship of DFPS, as follows:
- On the day preceding the student's 18th birthday
- On or after the day of the student's 14th birthday, if the student was also eligible for adoption on or after that day
- On the day the student graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma
- On the day preceding the date the student is adopted or permanent managing conservatorship of the student is awarded to a person other than the student's parent, if that date is on or after September 1, 2009
- During an academic term in which the student was enrolled in a dual-credit course or other course for which a high school student may earn joint high school and college credit
- The student enrolls in an institution of higher education as an undergraduate student or in a dual-credit course or other course for which a high school student may earn joint high school and college credit no later than the student's 25th birthday.
A student is exempt from the payment of tuition and fees if the student was adopted and was the subject of an adoption assistance agreement that provided monthly payments and medical assistance benefits that was not limited to providing only for the reimbursement of nonrecurring legal expenses.
In regulation: The ETV program provides financial assistance to eligible youth who were formerly or currently in foster care in order to support their pursuit of postsecondary education or vocational training. The total annual amount of financial assistance that an eligible youth may receive from the ETV program is determined by the following criteria:
- The amount of financial assistance is limited to the lesser of $5,000 or the total cost of attendance.
- The amount of educational assistance to a student under the ETV program and any other Federal or federally supported program must not exceed the total cost of attendance.
- Financial assistance provided under the ETV program cannot duplicate benefits provided under any other Federal or federally supported program.
- If a student is eligible for the State exemption from payment of tuition and fees and is attending an institution where that exemption applies, the student may not receive financial assistance under the ETV program for the cost of tuition and fees.
ETV funds can be used to pay for the cost of attendance, which includes the following:
- Tuition and fees (for schools/programs that do not qualify for the State tuition/fee waiver)
- Rental or purchase of required equipment, materials, books, supplies, or computer
- Room and board allowance
- Reasonable costs associated with child care for a student's dependents
- Costs associated with special study projects, such as field work or an internship
- Reasonable transportation and personal expenses associated with school/program attendance
- Required special services for students who have a disability