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Foster youth and wards of the court may face challenges when filling out college admission forms and financial aid applications.

Filling out the FAFSA as an Independent Student

The Ohio Benefit Bank offers assistance with filling out the FAFSA -- if you seek their help, please make sure the person helping you knows that you qualify to fill out the FAFSA as an independent student.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators recently released helpful information about Helping Foster Youth Fill Out the FAFSA Another helpful publication from the NASFAA is: College Access, Financial Aid and College Success for Undergraduates from Foster Care.

Addition information has been compiled in this Casey resource: Providing Effective Financial Aid Assistance to Foster Care and Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Actwas signed into law by President Bush on September 27, 2007. It increases the amount of Federal Pell Grants, lowers the interest rate on some student loans and expands loan repayment options for student borrowers.

It also amends the definition of an “independent student” by adding the following three categories:*
- Student who is an orphan, in foster care, or a ward of the court, at any time when the student was 13 years of age or older
- Student who is an emancipated minor or is in legal guardianship as determined by the court in their state of legal residence
- Applicant is verified as an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of homelessness and self-supporting

The young person only needs to fit into one of the above categories in order to be eligible to claim independent status. The act does not specify the length of time spent in foster care or the reason for exiting foster care. This law will take effective during the 2009 to 2010 school year.

Finding A College

The following sites allow youth to search colleges by state, major and tuition:
CollegeNET
College View
College Express

Financial Aid Considerations

College Board Online has online calculators to determine the amount of financial aid that youth will need, including scholarships and loans.

ETV funds are used to provide scholarships of up to $5,000 to 18-20 year olds, who have emancipated from foster care or were adopted with a finalization after their 16th birthday. This money can be used for tuition, books or qualified living expenses at college, vocational or technical training programs. To learn more, please contact the Orphan Foundation of America.

The FAFSA form must submitted online. This is one of the first steps that youth should take, and it's important to know his/her pin number.

Mapping Your Future is a free one-stop-site that provides information about college, career and financial aid resources.

Ohio Board of Regents are available at 1-877-428-8246, Mon.-Fri., between 10am-6pm. They can help youth with financial aid options and deadlines

The Student financial aid guide explains the different types of financial aid.

Federal grants do not need to be repaid: Pell Grant, SEOG, Federal Work-Study.
Federal loans must be repaid after youth finish school: Stafford, Perkins.