Chapter 3

Maximizing Financial Aid for Foster Youth
Chapter 3 - Maximizing Financial Aid for Foster Youth
Foster Youth College Success Initiative

Created in 2015, the Foster Youth College Success Initiative (FYCSI) provides assistance to address gaps in financial support for youth currently in foster care and alumni as they pursue college degrees. This program was incorporated into New York state law in Title 7: Article 130 - (6451 - 6456) ARTHUR O. EVE OPPORTUNITY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION; §6456 Foster Youth College Success Initiative.

FYCSI expands access to resources for students attending either public (i.e., CUNY or SUNY) or private independent universities in New York. To qualify for FYCSI benefits, students must be attending a public or private school that operates an educational opportunity program

  • NOTE: students are no longer required to enroll in an opportunity program to qualify for FYCSI funds.

Statutory Language:

For the purpose of this section, “foster youth” shall mean any student who meets ONE of the following descriptions:

  • Student is an orphan.
  • Student is or has been a child or youth in foster care as such term is defined here OR, in section §3244 of this chapter (Education of Children in Foster Care): Student is or was a ward of the court at any time after his or her 13th birthday.

Key Interpretation Points:

  • Any time spent in foster care after age 13 qualifies a student to claim independent status, even if the student was at a later time reunified with their parent(s) or adopted.
  • An eligible student includes any student (including undocumented youth) who is: 1) currently a resident of New York State; and, 2) either an orphan, OR spent time in foster care at any time after their 13th birthday.

Statutory Language:

Funds for all programs under this section shall be awarded in equal amounts per foster youth to each institution that applies for funding allocated to its sector distribution as provided in subdivision three of this section and has an application that is approved by the commissioner; provided, however, funds shall be awarded to a foster youth based on his or her need as determined by the institution of higher education where such foster youth is in attendance. Each sector will receive an equal amount of funding per eligible “foster youth” identified. Each institution must award students based on the financial need to cover expenses of the cost of attendance.

Key Interpretation Points:

Each sector (CUNY, SUNY, and independent private colleges with HEOPs) must submit an annual application to the New York State Department of Education to be a recipient of FYCSI funds. Applications must identify the number of students the institution intends to serve in the coming academic year. Once funds are distributed to each eligible institution, schools are responsible for distributing funding to students based on demonstrated need.


Statutory Language:

Moneys made available to institutions under this section shall be spent for the following purposes: 

  • to provide additional services and expenses to expand opportunities through existing post-secondary opportunity programs at the State University of New York, the City University of New York, and other degree-granting higher education institutions for foster youth;
  • to provide any necessary supplemental financial aid for foster youth, which may include the cost of tuition and fees, books, transportation, housing and other expenses as determined by commissioner to be necessary for such foster youth to attend college;
  • summer college preparation programs to help foster youth transition to college, prepare them to navigate on-campus systems, and provide preparation in reading, writing, and mathematics for foster youth who need it;
  • advisement, tutoring, and academic assistance for foster youth; OR,
  • to provide supplemental housing and meals for foster youth.

Key Interpretation Points:  

Please see the Cost of Attendance Guidance section for key considerations when making cost of attendance determinations for foster youth.