Q: I am working with a foster youth who will be applying soon to college. He told me that once he goes off to school he doesn’t want anyone to know he is in foster care. Are there benefits he may miss out on by not identifying himself?
A: Yes. While it is understandable why a youth may make the choice to not identify as a foster youth, it may have a cost. For example, foster youth who identify themselves as in foster care after the age of 13 do not have to report parental income on financial aid forms. Additionally, some foster youth are eligible for additional financial aid of up to $5000 based on their foster youth status through the Chafee Education and Training Voucher. Foster youth also have access to priority registration. Finally, foster youth support programs housed on campuses can provide additional academic, personal and financial benefits. He can also be told that the college staff have an obligation to keep information about his foster care status confidential.