Minnesotans in foster care system may qualify

This fall, Minnesotans, who were in the foster care system will benefit from a state grant program that covers their college tuition and living expenses.

The Fostering Independence Grant is available to students under the age of 27 and who were in the Minnesota foster care system at any point after the age of 13. Costs covered by the grant include tuition, fees, books, housing, and transportation. 

“This grant is not only an investment in Minnesota fosters, it is an investment in the future of our state,” said Dennis Olson, Commissioner for Office of Higher Education. “For our economy to thrive we must break down the barriers to higher education and create pathways for everyone in Minnesota to thrive. To any Minnesota fosters who didn’t think higher education was a possibility, I hope this grant is the catalyst for you to pursue postsecondary.”

Fostering independence grants are made possible through a $3.8 million investment by Governor Walz and the Minnesota Legislature during the 2021 session. The grants are available to students attending a Minnesota public, private, or tribal college. 

“Minnesota is leading the way with the Fostering Independence Grants. This funding really changes the calculation for the 80 percent of fosters who want to go to college – and that dream can be real now,” Hannah Planalp, Foster Advocates Program Manager said. “These grants will ease the burden of meeting basic needs so that Fosters can follow the pathway that is right for them.”

To be considered for the grant, students need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form or Minnesota Dream Act application.

If a student self-identifies as someone who has been in the foster care system and meets all eligibility, the grant will be factored into their financial aid package, along with any other financial aid for which they may be eligible.

Students eligibility for the grant is based on the following criteria:

• You are a Minnesota resident, including students who apply for state financial aid via the Minnesota Dream Act application.

• You are younger than 27 years of age.

• You are attending a Minnesota public or participating in a private higher education institution or tribal college. 

• You are eligible for the Education Vouchers for Former Youth in Foster Care or after your 13 birthday have been in foster care in Minnesota, including any of the following: placement in foster care at any time while 13 years of age or older; adoption from foster care at any time after reaching 13 years of age; or placement from foster care with a permanent legal custodian at any time after reaching 13 years of age.

• You have graduated high school or completed the equivalent as approved by the Minnesota department of Education.

• You have been accepted for admission to, or are currently attending, an eligible institution. 

• You are meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress as defined by your institution. 

For more information, visit www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?pageID=2491