(The Center Square) – A $3.8 million investment Gov. Tim Walz and Minnesota legislators made in 2021 will provide grants this fall to Minnesotans who were in the foster care system.
The Fostering Independence Grant covers college tuition, fees, books, housing and transportation for students under age 27 who were in the state’s foster care system at any time after age 13. Grants are available for students at dozens of participating public, private or tribal colleges in the state.
“This grant is not only an investment in Minnesota fosters, it is an investment in the future of our state,” Office of Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson said in a June 8 news release. “For our economy to thrive we must break down barriers to higher education and create pathways for everyone in Minnesota to thrive. To any Minnesota fosters who didn’t think higher education was a possibility, I hope this grant is the catalyst for you to pursue postsecondary.”
Students applying for the grant complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form or the Minnesota Dream Act application. Students who self-identify as someone who has been in the foster care system and meet eligibility requirements can receive the grant as part of their financial aid package, along with any other financial aid they’re eligible for.
Students must be eligible for the Education Vouchers for Former Youth in Foster Care or have been in foster care after their 13th birthday. That includes being placed in foster care at any time while at least 13 years old and adoption or placement from foster care with a permanent legal custodian at any time after age 13. Students must have graduated from high school or completed the equivalent Minnesota Department of Education requirements and be accepted by or currently attending an eligible institution. They must also meet satisfactory academic progress, as defined by the institution they attend.
“Minnesota is leading the way with the Fostering Independence Grants. This funding really changes the calculation for the 80 percent of fosters who want to go to college—and that dream can be real now,” Foster Advocates Program Manager Hannah Planalp said. “These grants will ease the burden of meeting basic needs so that Fosters can follow the pathway that is right for them.”
More details about the grant are on the Minnesota Office of High Education website.