Chapter 3

Maximizing Financial Aid for Foster Youth
Chapter 3 - Maximizing Financial Aid for Foster Youth
Common Eligibility Scenarios and Examples
SCENARIO 1: Foster Care/Ward of the State

Example A:

Scott lived with foster parents from age 8 until he was 18. He was kicked out of his foster home after he graduated from high school and went to live with his birth mother. Scott is ELIGIBLE, as he was still in foster care at age 13.

Example B:

Tammy was abused by her father and placed in foster care. She lived in a group home from age 10 to 15, and then went to live with her aunt and uncle. Tammy is ELIGIBLE, as she was still in foster care at age 13.

Example C:

Carrie was in foster care from age 10 to 12. She reunified with her birth mother before turning 13 years old, and has lived with her ever since. Carrie is NOT ELIGIBLE.

Example D:

Brad was in foster care from the time of his birth. His foster parents adopted him at age 12. Brad is NOT ELIGIBLE because he achieved permanency through adoption prior to reaching age 13.

SCENARIO 2: Orphan/Deceased Parent

Example A:

Caylee’s parents died in a car accident when she was 9 years old. She went to live with her aunt, who was granted guardianship of Caylee. Caylee is ELIGIBLE because both of her parents are deceased and she has not been adopted.

Example B:

Jon’s parents died when he was 11. His grandparents adopted him at age 12. John is NOT ELIGIBLE. Although his birth parents died, John was adopted before age 13, and therefore is a dependent of his adoptive parents.

Example C:

Siesha’s father died from an overdose when she was 2 years old. She was 16 when her mother passed away, and was subsequently adopted by her aunt. Siesha is ELIGIBLE because both of her parents are deceased, and she was adopted after age 13.

SCENARIO 3: Guardianship

Students living with another family member, or friend under a documented guardianship agreement or informal guardianship agreement(this does not include court/state wardship) are NOT ELIGIBLE, unless they have a foster care history or documented orphan status after their 13th birthdays.

SCENARIO 4: Kinship Guardianship

When youth are removed from their homes and placed into foster care with a relative (or kin as defined by NYS law) this is known as a kinship placement. The families become certified foster care providers, and will be under supervision by a local child welfare agency.

Kinship care families also may apply to become legal guardians of the youth in their care. If legal guardianship status is pending, students are still considered to be foster youth/wards of the court, and therefore are ELIGIBLE. If guardianship is approved before youth turn 13 years old, the students lose their foster youth status, and are NOT ELIGIBLE.  

SCENARIO 5: Time in Foster Care Outside New York State

Students who are currently in foster care in a state other than New York, or were previously in foster care in an outside jurisdiction after the age of 13, may be ELIGIBLE. Students must: (1) show they have been a New York State resident for 12 months prior to college enrollment; and, (2) provide documentation of their foster care eligibility status from the state where they were in foster care.

SCENARIO 6: NYS Residency and Out-of-State Placements

In some circumstances, young people may be placed in foster care in another state (outside NYS) and still maintain New York State Residency.


Michelle is originally from New York City and was placed in a foster home in Brooklyn. Her foster parent subsequently moves to New Jersey during Michelle’s senior year in high school. After Michelle graduates from a New Jersey high school, she applies to colleges located in New York State. Michelle is still under care of New York, and meets the NYS residency requirements, and is ELIGIBLE.

SCENARIO 7: Adoption

Students who have been adopted are ELIGIBLE if they spent any time in foster care or were orphaned (both parents deceased) after the age of 13.

SCENARIO 8: Undocumented Status

If undocumented students have spent time in foster care after their 13th birthdays, they are ELIGIBLE for participation in the Foster Youth College Success Initiative (FYCSI), and may be eligible for participation in the NYS DREAM Act. Due to their involvement with the child welfare system, these students also are typically eligible to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which is a pathway to a green card.

SCENARIO 9: Homeless Student/Unaccompanied Minors

If students are experiencing or have experienced homelessness, they are NOT ELIGIBLE for the foster youth, orphan, or ward of the court definitions on the basis of homelessness alone. These students must also demonstrate experiences in the foster care system or status as orphans to qualify for eligibility. However, these students would be considered financially independent from their parents (and therefore have “independent” status) when applying for aid. Financial Aid Administrators may use professional judgment to a dependency override.