Foster Care to College:
Fostering Success for the Future

Thank you for visiting this resource library, focused on making higher education more accessible and successful for youth leaving the foster care system. To learn more about the Field Center’s work in this area, click here.

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To understand the needs and opportunities for former foster youth in higher education, view our exclusive video below.

Video produced by Ran Zhang, MSW, Field Center Graduate Student in the Multidisciplinary Student Training Institute.


Resources Supporting Foster Youth in Preparing For and Attending College


Foster Club’s Transition Toolkit: A Transition Plan for Foster Youth
The Transition Toolkit is a youth-involved, comprehensive way to develop a transition plan for foster youth aging out of care, including planning worksheets, record keeping, detailed maps and resources on a variety of essential topics.

Foster Club Permanency Pact
The Permanency Pact is a free tool designed to encourage life-long, kin-like connections between a young person from foster care and a supportive adult.

Foster Care to Success
The oldest and largest national nonprofit organization working with college bound foster youth, helping them to transition from care to adulthood through education. Youth may receive information, mentorship, coaching, care packages, and funding, including grants and scholarships, from Foster Care to Success.

Things People Never Told Me
This compilation of experiences and suggestions from youth who have transitioned out of foster care may be helpful in equipping other youth leaving foster care, and the professionals working with them, with the necessary tools to become independent and successful adults.

Fostering Success Michigan National Postsecondary Support Map
This map provides links and information on state tuition waivers, statewide education support programs, and 4 year campus-based support programs for students who experience foster care.

US Department of Education Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO)
TRIO Programs serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to higher education programs. Student Support Services (SSS) is a campus-based TRIO program that may provide specific services, mentoring, and housing for youth in or aging out of the foster care system.

Federal Student Aid: FAFSA Dependency Status
This flow chart helps financial aid professionals, students, and those helping students complete the FAFSA determine whether they are considered an independent or dependent applicant. The website also answers questions about what students should report on the FAFSA.

College Scholarships for Foster Children
This website lists national and state-specific scholarships available to current and former foster youth. Additional categories of student-specific scholarships include adult learners, first generation college students, and low-income students.

Foster Care Alumni of America
FCAA is a national advocacy group with regional chapters. Published works for purchase include Flux, a detailed book on life after foster care told by seven different foster care alumni.

US Department of Education Foster Care Transition Toolkit 
This toolkit includes tips and resources intended to help foster youth access and navigate social, emotional, educational and skills barriers as they transition into adulthood, continue to postsecondary education and set out on a career with personal fulfillment. The toolkit is written for foster youth and is also meant to be a resource for caseworkers, care givers, teachers and mentors.



College Application Timeline for Pennsylvania Youth Who Have Experienced the Foster Care System
This timeline is designed to help prospective college applicants and the professionals supporting them with staying on track during high school. Special attention is paid to resources and deadlines that are unique to students in foster care.


Responding to COVID 19: How You Can Support Older Youth in Pennsylvania who Have Experience in Foster Care
The Field Center worked with Juvenile Law Center, Education Law Center, the HOPE Center, and Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children to produce this new report providing Pennsylvania-specific resources for helping students experiencing homelessness and students in the foster care system to adjust during the COVID-19 outbreak.


Campus Programming Directory for Foster Youth
This directory, updated for Fall 2021, from the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, and Research provides information on supports and programs to assist current and former foster youth in higher education across Pennsylvania, including highlights of institutions that offer campus-based support programs for foster youth.

Scholarships for Foster Youth in Pennsylvania

This guide from the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, and Research provides a listing of college scholarships for foster youth. The descriptions include eligibility criteria that may apply to many applicants with experience in foster care.

Pennsylvania Association of TRIO Programs
PA TRIO is the premier state association supporting the goals of access and opportunity for higher education. The website includes a description of statewide programming and links to an interactive nationwide map of TRIO programs and the PA TRIO Fact Book.

Philadelphia Futures Step Up to College Guide
Designed with first-generation-to-college students in mind, this guide is tailored to Philadelphia’s students in grades nine to twelve and their families, leading them through each stage of the college admissions process – from test preparation and identifying college choices, to writing application essays and understanding financial aid, to transitioning to college life.

For the Love of Success: An educational toolkit for Philadelphia Foster Youth
This toolkit was created by foster youth for foster youth to help them graduate from high school and get into college. It is designed to be helpful for any youth in high school. It also has insightful advice from foster youth who have been through the process and bountiful resources for youth to plan successful college experiences.

PA Youth Advisory Board
The Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is comprised of current and former substitute care youth ages 16-21. Youth leaders on the YAB educate, advocate, and form partnerships to create positive change in the substitute care system. Includes a section on resources for foster youth seeking higher Education in PA.

How Can I Pay For College: Grant Money for PA Foster Youth
This informative fact sheet explains 4 sources of grant funding for foster youth in Pennsylvania. Grants are money for college that youth do not have to pay back.

Resources for Professionals


Fostering College Success Mentorship Program: A Public-Private Partnership to Build a Better Tomorrow for Youth in Foster Care
This Casey Family Programs publication introduces barriers and solutions to success in higher education, and highlights an innovative mentorship program operating through a multisector collaboration in New York City.

NO TIME TO LOSE A Policy Agenda to Support College Success for Foster Youth
A California-based report identifying the specific policies and practices that must change to help foster youth achieve their postsecondary goals, arriving on a set of 17 policy recommendations.

Supporting Success: Improving higher education outcomes for students from foster care
This guide provides useful information for college counselors, student support services programs and TRIO programs, professionals and advocates. This powerful tool provides a framework for improving postsecondary education and training outcomes for students in and from foster care.

Campus Connections: Securing Campus Housing & Other Supports for Youth Who Were in Foster Care
A Texas-based but nationally relevant step-by-step guide on how to build a comprehensive support system for post-secondary institutions to assist students formerly in foster care.

Foster Youth Campus Support Programs: A LEADERSHIP GUIDE:
A guide for professionals to plan, develop and maintain successful Campus Support Programs, including samples of forms that can be adapted for use by a developing program.

Legal Center for Foster Care and Education
This website includes multiple Q&A factsheets and issue briefs pertaining to education for foster youth and other child welfare initiatives, as well as a detailed publication that acts as a how-to guide for professionals to help improve educational outcomes for children.

Helping Young Adults from Foster Care Succeed in College

This tip sheet addresses issues that can hinder young adults in their efforts to attend or succeed in college, such as life instability, services, and transition to adulthood. The tip sheet offers strategies to college faculty and staff to support students from foster care to overcome these issues.

Achieving Success: Guidance for Colleges to Better Support Foster Youth
This document, created by current and former foster youth, highlights recommendations of actions that colleges can take to improve access to higher education for foster youth nationwide, pledges that colleges can make to create tangible change on their campuses, and information about tuition waiver options for foster youth.

Higher Education Foster Youth Programs 2018 Review
This 2018 report from the Aging Out Institute reviews programs specifically dedicated to helping foster youth or former foster youth apply to college and succeed in their academic endeavors and makes recommendations for effective campus support programs based on their findings.


Tuition Assistance Programs for Foster Youth Pursuing Postsecondary Education
This 50-State Review from the Education Commission of the States serves as a tool to better understand the state-level support for foster youth and provides a guidepost for possible policy redesign.

Charting the Course: Using Data to Support Foster Youth College Success
This report offers new insights into the educational experiences of foster youth attending community colleges and universities throughout California by providing information on a common set of academic progress and outcome measures.

Passport to College Promise: College Assistance and Support for Former Foster Youth
An independent evaluation of Washington State’s Passport to College Promise. The Passport program resulted in similar retention and completion rates for foster youth compared to other (non-foster) students.

Issue Brief: Cost Avoidance – The Business Case for Investing in Youth Aging Out of Foster Care 
This Casey report highlights the financial price tag to taxpayers of poor outcomes among youth exiting foster care, making a strong case for the financial investment in these youth. The issue brief highlights costs in three areas: education, parenthood, and justice system involvement.