Pursuing a college degree is a common goal for many students who survived a challenging childhood in the system — and that’s where the best scholarships for youth adopted from foster care come into play. A university education is expensive; these awards help with the costs of tuition, books, and more. That way, they can stay focused on studying and gaining the skills that expand their career prospects down the road.
Related resource: 100 Most Affordable Small Colleges East of the Mississippi
1. Family Fellowship
– Current or former foster youth
– Aged 17-23
– Accepted into an accredited post-secondary institution
– U.S. citizen
Administered by the Fund ll Foundation and Together We Rise, the Family Fellowship provides up to $90,000 to students in foster care. These funds can cover up to five years of tuition, books, and tutors. The award also offers an allowance for monthly housing costs; students also get housing during summer breaks to reduce insecurity. Because the foundation understands the unique challenges of former foster children, it also offers mentoring and emotional support so that students feel safe and comforted enough to master the college process. As part of that, scholarship recipients receive care packages, trips with other students, and more.
2. Western Michigan University Foundation Scholarship
– 3.7 GPA or higher
– Enrolling in the first year of college immediately after graduation from high school
– Applied to WMU
– Demonstrated financial need
For students who are thinking of going to Western Michigan University, the Foundation Scholarship is one way to cut costs. The recipient receives $60,000 over the course of four years, as long as they maintain a 3.00 cumulative GPA and attend full-time each fall and spring semester. In addition, students must complete 24 or more credit hours each year; this number doesn’t include summer credits or any courses that need to be repeated. Apply by February 15th using the WMU Gold Gateway system; the application to WMU must also be submitted by this date.
3. Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans
– Immigrant or the child of an Immigrant (New American status)
– Bachelor’s degree
– Planning to attend an eligible grad school full-time in the coming year
– For students who are in grad school, must not have started the third year
– Younger than 31
For foster children and former foster children who are immigrants or children of immigrants, the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is a valuable opportunity to attend graduate school. This fellowship gives each recipient up to $90,000 to cover two years of school. As they review applications, the committee considers creativity, accomplishment, and commitment to the values of the United States. Keep in mind that some degrees are not eligible for this award, including online programs, dual bachelor’s/master’s programs, international programs, certificates, or post-baccalaureate programs. Every student must be attending an accredited university. Apply by November 1st to be considered.
4. Hendrick Scholarship
– Documented financial need
– U.S. citizen
– Recent graduate of the Plano, Texas ISD
– High-school GPA of 2.5 or higher
Each year, the Hendrick Scholarship Foundation gives approximately 15 students the Hendrick Scholarship. This award is intended to help students who have overcome a significant amount of adversity in their youth; applicants need to provide an essay explaining their situation and the steps they took to survive and succeed. Winners receive up to $16.500 over the course of their college career; if they’re attending Collin College, they get $1,500 per school year. This money pays for tuition, books, and fees. In addition, Hendrick Scholarship recipients receive resources, help with educational planning, career guidance, and mentoring, and workshops for life skills and personal development. The application deadline is March 18th.
5. David E. Ballard Living Legacy Scholarship
– Undergraduate student attending college full-time
– Completed at least 60 credits
– Planning a career in live entertainment
– Experienced homelessness in the past four years or have been in foster care after age 16
– U.S. citizen or permanent resident
– 2.75 GPA or higher
The David E. Ballard Living Legacy Scholarship provides financial assistance to students who have experienced homelessness or who have been in the foster care system. It’s designed to help make possible a career in live entertainment — this might include music engineering, production, operations, and more. Given in memory of David E. Ballard, this scholarship totals $10,000 distributed across two or more semesters. As part of the application, students can expect to provide transcripts, a resume, proof of enrollment, and two letters of recommendation. In addition, they’ll need to offer proof of their past status and an essay about their professional goals. The application deadline is March 31st.
6. UMPS CARE Charities All-Star College Scholarship
– Adopted after the age of 13
– Demonstrated financial need
– Submitted FAFSA application
– Incoming college freshman
– Younger than 20
For children who were adopted later in life, the UMPS CARE Charities All-Star College Scholarship is funded by umpires from the Major League Baseball organization. The recipient is given up to $10,000 each year; this money can be used to cover tuition, books, and other expenses related to college education. As long as they meet the requirements, students can get this scholarship every year for four years. In addition to maintaining a 2.5 GPA or higher, students need to follow the UMPS CARE ethical code of conduct and stay in contact with the organization’s staff. The application deadline is May 15th.
7. Nick and Helena Patti Foundation Scholarship
– Strong academic background
– Demonstrated leadership ability
– Committed to serving the Italian-American community
Every year, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans chooses one student to receive $6,500 from the Nicholas and Helena Patti Foundation Scholarship Fund. This scholarship was created with music majors in mind; however, the foundation also considers students in other fields of study. As they review applicants, the committee considers the individual’s academic record, leadership ability, musical talent, and the ways the person has been active in the Italian-American community. Applications must be submitted by November 1st; winners can reapply every year.
8. Iris-Samuel Rothman Scholarship
– Lost both parents
– Enrolled or accepted at a college or university in New England
For young men who have lost both of their parents, the Iris-Samuel Rothman Scholarship is one opportunity to help pay for college in New England. The award varies each year but usually totals between $500 and $5,000. This fund is administered by the It’s Who’s On The Bus That Counts nonprofit organization. The application is simple; applicants only need to answer nine different questions about their personal circumstances and provide a short essay about themselves. Apply at any time, but keep in mind that the organization only notifies winners; it does so within 60 days of the application date.
9. Vermont John H. Chafee Education and Training Scholarship
– Been in Department or Children and Families (DCF) custody after the age of 14 or 16 if adopted
– Younger than 26
– Documented financial need
– Attending an accredited institution that’s eligible for Title IV funding
To help students who have been in the foster care system, the Vermont John H. Chafee Education and Training Scholarship provides up to $5,000 to cover tuition, fees, room, board, personal expenses, and books. Keep in mind that this scholarship takes into account the student’s financial need by subtracting the expected family contribution and other aid from the cost of attendance. Most recipients get between $1,000 and $3,000. To apply, plan to complete the FAFSA, a Vermont Grant Application, and a Unified Scholarship Application. This scholarship is provided by the federal government.
10. Pinnacol Foundation Scholarship
– Child or dependent of a worker who was injured or killed in the line of duty in Colorado and was eligible for the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act
– Age 16 to 25
– GPA of 2.0 or higher
– Have or expecting a high school diploma or GED
The Pinnacol Foundation provides financial support for students who suffered the loss or injury of a parent on the job at a Colorado-based company. The annual amount varies, but it usually averages $4,700. These funds can only be applied to the cost of attendance at an accredited institution. To apply, students must submit an application, transcripts, the Student Aid Report from the FAFSA, a personal essay, and details about personal experiences. In addition, the foundation requires documentation of the parent’s injury or death. Submit applications from November 1st to February 15th.
Related resource: 40 Great Scholarships for First-Generation College Students
11. Oregon Chafee Education and Training Grant
– Meet one of these conditions: Be in the foster care system currently; in foster care for six months after your 14th birthday and exited after your 16th birthday or later; former foster youth who was adopted/found guardianship after age 13 with the adoption or guardianship finished after September 1st, 2015.
– Be younger than 26 when the scholarship finishes
Oregon’s Department of Human Services Independent Living Program provides an Oregon Chafee Education and Training Grant each year to one current or former foster youth. The maximum award varies by year and the financial need of the recipient, but it maxes out at $5,000. The application process requires students to submit the FAFSA and a grant application; the university itself provides the information that determines the final amount. Apply for this grant by March 1st.
12. Daniel A. Terry Scholarship
– Natural or adopted child of a California firefighter who was killed in the course of duty; the parent’s name must also be approved for the California Firefighters Memorial Wall
– Younger than 27 years
– High school diploma or GED or a high school senior
The California Fire Foundation’s Daniel A. Terry Scholarship is given in honor of Daniel A. Terry, who served the state’s firefighters for more than 30 years. To commemorate his efforts to increase safety, this scholarship provides $2,000 to students who have lost a parent in the line of duty. These funds are renewable every year for up to four years, assuming that students meet the foundation’s renewal guidelines. During the application process, students must complete the application packet, offer a certification of enrollment, and send a family photo. In addition, they must write an essay about the fallen parent and provide an autobiography. The committee bases its decisions on the application data and the thoughtfulness of the submissions. Applications are accepted until May 1st.
13. The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation Scholarship
– Graduating high school senior
– Lost a parent to colorectal cancer
– GPA of 2.00 or higher
– Accepted to an eligible institution (community college, 4-year university, military/professional trade school, or nursing program)
The WunderGlo Foundation provides this scholarship to three students every year in honor of Jim Gainey, a dedicated father and Wunder Warrior who passed away from colon cancer at age 34. To help students who have suffered a similar loss of a parent, the WunderGlo Foundation provides $2,000 to defray the costs of higher education. Winners are chosen by the foundation’s Board of Directors. In addition to an application, students must submit an essay. All applications must be submitted by April 15th. The committee reviews every application by April 30th, and the winners are announced by May 1st.
14. Laila Uthman Scholarship
– Graduating senior at Oceana High School
– Planning enrollment part-time or full-time at a community college, university, or vocational school
– Shows potential for academic success
The Laila Uthman Scholarship is given to up to five graduating seniors from Oceana High School in Pacifica, California. It’s designed to help students who have succeeded in completing high school despite challenges in their academic and personal lives; alternatively, recipients may be students who have taken exceptional steps to show concern for people who are less fortunate. Each scholarship totals $1,000. Seniors should speak to the school administration to be considered during their senior year.
15. The Quell Foundation Survivor Scholarship
– High school seniors or current college student at the undergraduate or graduate level
– Lost a parent, caregiver, or sibling to suicide
– Accepted into an accredited university
– Minimum GPA of 3.40
The Quell Foundation Survivor Scholarship, which totals $1,000, is given to a student who has survived the death of a loved one. It’s designed to ease the financial and emotional burden of survivorship and to help the student succeed in college. This scholarship is funded by the daughter of Irene Pasierb, who died by suicide after a fight with mental health. In addition to the funds, this scholarship gives the student the opportunity to engage the college community in reducing the stigma around mental health. Applications are accepted between March 1st and April 15th.
16. General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Scholarships
– Active, full member of The United Methodist Church for a minimum of one year
– Pursuing a degree at an accredited U.S. institution
– Minimum GPA of 2.5
– Attending or planning to attend full-time
Each year, The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry offers a wide range of scholarships to students around the country. At any given time, there are more than 70 GBHEM scholarships available; students need only submit a single application to be considered for all awards. All of them are available to current or former foster youth. Fill out the application between January 3rd and March 10th.
17. Maryland Tuition Waiver for Foster Care Recipients
– Under the age of 25
– Put in an out-of-home placement by the Maryland Department of Human Services
– Been in the out-of-home placement at high school graduation or 18th birthday or GED completion OR
– Been in an out-of-home placement for one year after 13th birthday and exited to adoption, guardianship, or parent custody OR
– Been the younger sibling of a child put in one of the two above conditions and also placed in the same guardianship or adoption with the older sibling
– Attending a public college or university in Maryland
Maryland offers a waiver for all of the tuition and fees at a public college for students and siblings who have lived in the foster system. This program is applicable for up to nine years or until the completion of a bachelor’s degree; students simply need to file the FAFSA each year and stay enrolled to qualify. The waiver is good for any semester and does not apply to housing, books, food, or transportation.
18. Oklahoma Independent Living Act Foster Care Tuition Waiver
– Resident of Oklahoma
– Graduated from an approved Oklahoma high school or bordering high school within three years or completed the GED
– Been in DHS custody for 9 months or more between ages 16 and 18
– Enrolled in an approved university or technology center program
– Younger than 26
The Oklahoma Independent Living Act Foster Care Tuition Waiver takes care of all the tuition costs for former foster youth who live in Oklahoma. This program doesn’t include fees or other costs and is only applicable to resident-level tuition. Students can take advantage of this waiver until they complete their bachelor’s degree or until they turn 26, whichever comes first. To apply, fill out the FAFSA and contact the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education before the start of the semester.
19. Sullivan-Deckard Scholars Opportunity Program
– In foster care
– Between the ages of 17 and 20
– Will age out of foster care by high school graduation or college start
– Legal resident of Ohio
This program is offered by Cleveland State University; it provides foster youth with all of the financial resources they need to cover tuition, books, and fees. Recipients also get free campus housing all year, as well as a job on campus. In addition, students receive an academic advising and support network, mentoring, peer assistance, and tutoring. Apply by March 1st.
Scholarships are a great way to help pay for the rising costs of college tuition. With the best scholarships for youth adopted from foster care, former foster children can help fund their education and graduate with lower debt.
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Know of a scholarship available specifically for youth who were adopted from foster care that we missed? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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