Child Welfare

CDF-Ohio and Partners Urge Ohio Senate to Support Foster-to-College Scholarship Act

May 19, 2023 | Ohio

CDF-Ohio and Partners Urge Ohio Senate to Support Foster-to-College Scholarship Act

This month, a group of students with experience in foster care, alumni of foster care, and their allies wrote a letter to members of the Ohio Senate to urge them to support the Foster-to-College Scholarship Act.

Scholarships for students with experience in foster care (SEFC) will not only increase the number who aspire to attend and complete college, but it will help them achieve financial stability earlier. Ohio can make that promise by enacting this legislation to provide the full cost of attendance to any college in Ohio for SEFC.

The research is clear, the main barriers to higher education for youth are financial, preparedness, and aspirations. Students who know they can pay for college are more likely to aspire to attend. Aspiring to attend college motivates students to stay in school and keep their grades up. Reducing financial barriers increases the likelihood that a student will complete their degree. A recent study in Texas shows the students who take advantage of the state’s policy of waiving all tuition and fees for students with experience in foster care are 3.5 times more likely than their SEFC peers to graduate with a postsecondary education degree.

Caidyn Bearfield, a student with experience in foster care who will be graduating from Columbus State Community College in May, lent her expertise on the issue and why these waivers are important:

“Nearly every fellow former foster youth that I have ever met relates to what I myself have endured: we were moved around extensively, often as a result of neglect or abuse experienced in a placement, and without much say in the matter. If someone is unable to remain at the same high school, how are they supposed to be involved in the extracurriculars or have a competitive GPA and earn scholarships? Without scholarships or parent support, they must pay for college themselves. No one should have to choose between their present and their future. I know from personal experience that former foster youth and other low-income populations are faced with this difficult question: do I want to pay my bills or continue going to school? With the rising cost of rent, groceries, and gas, it is inevitable that more people will face this dilemma. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone should be equipped with the resources to support themselves. Offering full-ride scholarships to students with experience in foster care will create a strong foundation so they are not dependent upon assistance programs for the rest of their life. Full-ride scholarships would be a life-affirming preventative measure to equip today’s foster youth to defy the statistical trends we have seen for so many decades and break the cycle.”

Read the full letter that CDF-Ohio and our partners sent to the Ohio Senate and share widely.