• September 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 8

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Fostering Independence by Supporting College Success

Researchers in New York State estimate that youth who have been in foster care are far less likely to be enrolled in college than youth who have not been in care, raising their chances of higher rates of unemployment and lower earnings over their lifetime. A new report from the Community Service Society of New York (CSSNY) examines the many challenges facing youth in New York State—including college enrollment—as they leave foster care and transition to independence.

Arranging for jobs, housing, transportation, health insurance, and learning to live independently can be challenging enough for these youth; adding the possibility of going to college can seem overwhelming and beyond their reach. The report cites some specific barriers to college attendance:

  • The rising cost of college attendance
  • Financial aid programs that can be difficult to access and offer inadequate assistance
  • Lack of support from parents or caseworkers in the application and decision-making processes
  • Lack of housing during school breaks
  • Lack of emotional support from parents or others after enrollment

The authors review current State programs that support youth, noting the lack of a centralized system by which youth in care are made aware of available resources or offered assistance in finding the services that would be most beneficial. The authors go on to advocate for a more comprehensive and integrated system that could lead to more youth successfully completing college degrees. The report also describes programs in other States that offer tuition grants and other financial aid to cover the majority of expenses, mentoring and counseling, academic tutoring, and help with finding housing during school breaks. Two appendices, one on the number of youth in foster care who are in college and the other on sources of college funding for foster youth, also are included.

Fostering Independence: The Need for a Statewide Foster College Success Initiative, by Apurva Mehrotra and Lazar Treschan, is available from the CSSNY website:


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