For decades, the federal and state-level governments have developed and enacted policies to support and increase postsecondary participation and attainment rates. Although these numbers have increased, some student populations, such as youth in the foster care system, may face access barriers to higher education, including participation in available state financial aid programs.

This new policy report from Education Commission of the States, Strengthening Policies for Foster Youth Postsecondary Attainment, provides an overview of the challenges foster youth confront when pursuing a postsecondary credential, focuses on the treatment of these youth by state financial aid programs, and offers potential remedies that state policy leaders may pursue to increase successful outcomes for this population.

“For youth in the foster care system, navigating through complex state and federal postsecondary public polices can create additional obstacles as they seek to continue their education at a postsecondary institution,” said Molly Sarubbi, a policy researcher at Education Commission of the States. “This report can serve as a resource for states that are exploring or redesigning policies to support this population in their pursuit of a higher education and to help promote their collective upward social mobility.”

Some key takeaways from this report:

  • Of the 415,000 foster youth in care, only 46 percent will earn a high school diploma and less than 3 percent will obtain a bachelor’s degree.
  • Nationally, 28 states have enacted tuition assistance programs for foster youth or former foster youth seeking a postsecondary degree.
  • To date, 41 states have adopted federal recommendations to extend foster care eligibility beyond 18 years old, helping to bridge the high school to college transition.

For questions, contact Education Commission of the States Communications Director Amy Skinner at askinner@ecs.org or (303) 299.3609.

Tweet this ECS report!

  • New from @edcommission: Strengthening Policies for Foster Youth Postsecondary Attainment bit.ly/2e3YnNy #edpolicy #highered
  • Only 46% of foster youth will earn a high school diploma & less than 3% will earn a bachelor’s degree bit.ly/2e3YnNy @edcommission
  • 28 states enacted tuition assistance programs for foster youth seeking a postsecondary degree. More @edcommission bit.ly/2e3YnNy

 PUBLISHED: October 27, 2016

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