Educational Supports for Youth in Foster Care - Wisconsin

Date: April 2020

Support for Completing High School

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Planning for Postsecondary Education

Citation: DCF Website

From the Department of Children and Families website: Each student must have an education focus included in his or her independent-living plan. The student must be involved in designing his or her plan and program activities. The education section of the plan should include the following:

  • A plan for successful completion of education or training after high school
  • Links/communication with school counselors, officials, and/or support persons
  • A plan for completing required applications, tests, and other financial aid forms
  • A plan for supporting school or training attendance

Students receiving assistance accept responsibility for doing what it needed to maintain funding, such as, for example, being responsive to the regional agency, meeting deadlines, and/or providing needed documentation.

Eligibility Requirements

Citation: DCF Website

Brighter Star funds are awarded through transition resource agencies. Processes may differ between regions, but eligible youth will likely need to complete an application to receive funds.

Brighter Star funds are intended to help the following youth:

  • Students who are at least age 17 and a half and are likely to remain in court-ordered out-of-home placement (foster care) until age 18 or older
  • Students who were adopted or entered chapter 48 guardianship at age 16 or older following time in a court-ordered out-of-home placement
  • Students between age 18 to 23 who left the foster care system at age 18 or older

Students may access funds up to age 23 or for 5 academic years, whichever comes first. They must be enrolled in an approved institution of higher education and be making satisfactory progress.

Brighter Star funds cannot be used for activities related to college search, completing high school coursework, or earning high school credit. However, students may receive Brighter Star funds prior to high school graduation if they are enrolled in a certificate program that is directly connected to employment that can be obtained without a high school diploma, such as a certified nursing assistant program. A student must have senior standing to receive funding.

Financial Supports for Postsecondary Programs

Citation: DCF Website

Brighter Star, Wisconsin's Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program, allows eligible youth/young adult students to receive up to $5,000 per school year in financial aid. The student must be enrolled in (or accepted to) an accredited or preaccredited post-high school program. Funds may be spent on tier 1 expenses, identified below. If a youth does not have a tier 1 expense, or once those expenses have already been addressed, Brighter Star funds can be used to pay for other items in tier 2.

Tier 1 expenses include the following:

  • Tuition
  • Balances due at school
  • On-campus room and board
  • Meal cards
  • Books and school supplies (such as uniforms, tools, and equipment)
  • Federal student loans
  • Study abroad through qualifying schools

Tier 2 expenses include the following:

  • Rent
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Health insurance premium costs
  • Disability services
  • Dependent child care expenses to licensed child care providers