Public Affairs

Foster Students Find a Welcoming Environment at CSU campuses

March 25, 2009
By Clara Potes-Fellow

Lynnea Trujillo
Lynnea Trujillo found affordable year-
round housing on campus, specialized
assistance with financial aid, and
opportunities for student leadership
through Connect Motivate and Educate
(CME) Society at San Jose State

Approximately 493 former foster youth participate in programs at CSU campuses that support their academic and personal aspirations. In addition, CSU campus outreach staff have helped approximately 1,415 youth who are still in foster care and desire to attend college. Students receive support that facilitates entry to a campus, persistence through the college years, and graduation.

Services found by foster youth prior and after joining a CSU campus include, admission assistance, financial aid, college life orientation, academic advising and monitoring, counseling, peer mentoring, life skills workshops, social and academic celebrations and employment opportunities. Campuses use grants and donations to provide, on-campus housing and to cover campus and university fees, books, personal expenses, child care and transportation.

Legislation Helped to Acknowledge Foster Youth Status in College Applications

State legislation that passed in 1996, authored by then Assembly Member Louis Caldera (AB2463) called upon the California State University and the California Community Colleges to expand access and retention programs. As a result the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) ensured that foster youth are informed of services. The ward of the court status was also added to the CSU admission application as well as the EOP and FAFSA applications.

This legislation helped youth and those who support them believe that obtaining higher education is possible and recognize that they should include postsecondary education as a career goal.

In addition, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and ex officio member of the CSU Board of Trustees, recently coauthored AB12 to extend support for foster youth to the age of 21.

Sam Cannon
"CSU nurtured me and helped me with
my first experiences at school. I felt really
welcomed and supported in many ways,
including financial aid and life advice,"
said Sam Cannon, who intends to transfer
as a business major to Cal State Fullerton
after completing his lower division course
work at a local community college.

Several Sources of Financial Support Provide Means to Earn a University Degree

College foster youth receive financial assistance from federal, state and private grants. The most comprehensive among them is the California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth that provides up to $5,000 per year for college. Eligible former foster youth can use this money not only for college fees but also to pay for child care, transportation and rent.

Other forms of financial aidinclude Federal Pell Grants, State University Grants, Cal Grants, Work Study and scholarships.