Chapter 6Campus Policy Recommendations
The rising cost of attending higher education is often a deterrent for young people in foster care aspiring to achieve a college degree. Fortunately, New York State has made the pathway to a college degree more obtainable with the establishment of the Foster Youth College Success Initiative (FYCSI). Since 2015, funding available through this program has been alleviating the cost of attendance for college students with a foster care background. In fact, awareness of FYCSI has contributed to a 46% increase in the number of New York students attending college from foster care4.
In addition to FYCSI, foster youth and alumni would benefit greatly from early access policies that connect them to courses and supportive campus resources. The following recommendations are designed to promote more equitable opportunities for foster youth:
Priority registration should be granted to foster youth to ensure they can access the classes they need to satisfy financial aid and other funding requirements. Expedited registration would give these students the ability to coordinate other necessary supports in a timely fashion, such as health insurance porting and requests for child welfare room and board payments.
Schools should consider limiting or waiving enrollment and other fees for foster youth to accommodate for financial challenges that are beyond their control. For example, these students frequently are charged excessive late payment fees because their child welfare room and board payments are delayed. Without the usual family safety net, they simply don’t have the means to cover these expenses in the interim and may have to drop out of school as a result. To support college persistence, campuses should consider avoiding late fee policies that automatically trigger holds on student accounts for outstanding semester balances.