Juvenile Law Center

Education, Employment, and Finances

Paying for Your Education in Pennsylvania

How do I pay for college or training school?

The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The FAFSA can be completed on paper or online. You can get a paper copy of the FAFSA in your guidance counselor’s office or at any college admission or financial aid office. To apply online go to www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you need assistance filling out the application, contact 1-800-4-FED-AID. Try to submit your FAFSA as soon as you can to avoid missing any deadlines.

When you are filling out the FAFSA form, be sure to answer YES to question 53. This question asks if you are or were a ward/dependent of the court. If you are or were in foster care, answer “YES.” Answering yes makes you eligible for the maximum amount of student aid available. You will need to provide a letter from the county child welfare agency that shows that you have been in care. Contact your caseworker or your lawyer for this information if you do not have it.

Are there grants and scholarships available for youth in care or youth who have been in care?

Yes! There are scholarships for youth who are or have been in substitute care. Many scholarships are available to students based on their experiences in foster care as well as their gender, race, chosen course of study, or other distinguishing factors. More information on grants to help Pennsylvania foster youth pay for college is in our new factsheet. Here are just a few scholarship opportunities that you should look into:

College Board: Matches applications to appropriate scholarships.

PHEAA: Lists scholarships, grants, and work-study options.

The Pittsburgh Foundation: Provides several scholarships that youth in care may be eligible for.

UNCF: Provides scholarships to African American students who attend United Negro College Fund member colleges and non-member colleges. Search the database of UNCF and non-UNCF scholarships at the site.

Casey Family Scholarship: Offers between $1,500 and $10,000 per year in scholarships to youth under age 25 who resided in foster care for at least 12 months and were not adopted.

Chafee Education and Training Grant (ETG): Provides up to $5,000 per academic year. You may be eligible if you:

  • were adopted after age 16;
  • are 16 or older and in care; or
  • are under 21 and were in care at age 16 or older.
  • To apply you must complete the FAFSA and the Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program Application. To obtain this application, call 1-800-831-0797 or visit www.pheaa.org or www.independentlivingpa.org.

National Foster Parent Association Youth Scholarship: Offers scholarships to foster youth for college, vocational training schools, correspondence courses and even GED prep programs. They award five scholarships of $1,000 each. To apply, you must complete the application, obtain two letters of recommendation, and write an essay. Click here for more information.

Horatio Alger Scholarship Programs: Offers scholarships for youth who are seniors in high school, have maintained a 2.0 GPA and would like to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Student must be considered in “critical financial need.” Find out more information here.


Last updated December 2011


Juvenile Law Center's fact sheets are sponsored by The Alex Benjamin Norris Memorial Fund.

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