Scholarships for Foster Kids

Were you a Foster Child?

For the half million foster children* in the United States, paying for college presents formidable challenges. Fortunately, several programs initiate scholarships, grants and loans that are exclusively available to the subset of students who are adopted or currently in foster care. The number of foster care scholarships continues to grow, and the early part of the century saw several states codify new assistance and tuition waiver programs for foster kids and adoptees.

Public and private scholarships originate at the state and federal levels, providing access to college for former foster children.  Each program employs unique application protocols, so specifics are best handled by individual program administrators and campus financial aid offices.

* Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families

Private Organizations Fund Foster Child Scholarshipsfoster kid scholarships

The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) offers scholarships designed to help foster families pay for education beyond high school.   High school seniors are encouraged to apply once they have been accepted into their state college or university. Each student is asked to submit a short essay with application materials, on a topic to be provided by the Association.

Casey Family Programs is dedicated to improving the child welfare system and  providing educational opportunities for foster children.  Organizations like Foster Care to Success administer Casey Family scholarship dollars for needy foster children.  Applicants who were in foster care for at least one year prior to reaching their 18th birthday are eligible to compete for annual scholarships worth $1500 – $6000. Casey Family Scholarships enable foster youth under the age of 25 to attend national colleges and universities.

The Darko Rapotez Memorial College Scholarship Fund for Aged Out Foster Youth is administered by Love our Children USA.  The foster youth scholarship provides between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of tuition fee assistance to children who have “aged out” of the foster care system. Participants must provide books and housing with outside funds.  Successful applicants are judged based on academic excellence and financial need.  Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 24 and maintain the program’s GPA standard of 3.0.

Horatio Alger Scholarships disburse between $2,500 and $10,000 annually, to each qualified recipient. Funds can be used to finance undergraduate education for needy adopted students pursuing bachelor’s degrees at accredited American colleges and universities.

The Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) is now known as Foster Care to Success, but the philanthropic educational mission remains focused on foster families and adopted children.  In addition to valuable Casey Family Scholarships, the group connects willing donors with the foster care children who need help paying for school.  The Sponsored Scholarship Program creates opportunities for organizations, as well as individuals, to contribute to positive outcomes for former foster care youth. U.S. former foster children under 25, with a cumulative high school GPA of at least 2.0  may apply.

North American Council on Adoptable Children stands committed to meeting the needs of waiting youths and the adoptive parents who welcome them into their lives.  The groups maintains resources for former foster kids heading into higher education.

State-Specific Foster Child Scholarships and Tuition Waiver Programs

In a decentralized federal republic, education decisions are best made close to home.  As a result, state programs are rich with opportunities for former foster care and adopted students seeking aid.  These state examples illustrate the breadth of financial assistance that is put forth in some U.S. States.







New Jersey



South Dakota