Category Archives: Finance

Can Foster Youth Students Who Don’t Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Receive Financial Aid?

Q: If a foster youth student is not meeting a college’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements, are they still eligible to receive financial aid? For the answer, please follow this link.

Students may not meet SAP for various reasons, including having a low grade point average (GPA), not completing enough courses, or taking too long to reach the number of courses needed to graduate. Each academic institution has their own SAP policy, but, generally speaking, most forms of federal financial aid only allow students to not meet SAP for two consecutive semesters or three consecutive quarters before becoming ineligible for funding and needing to file an appeal with their financial aid office to potentially have it reinstated.

As a result of SB 150, however, which went into effect on January 1, 2020,  foster youth students in California receiving the Chafee Education and Training Voucher can fail to meet SAP for four consecutive semesters or five consecutive quarters before losing their Chafee funding. After the second consecutive semester (or third quarter), students must meet with an on-campus advisor to develop a Student Success Plan that addresses both academic and non-academic barriers they are facing in maintaining the required GPA and working towards graduation. If a student continues to not meet SAP for four consecutive semesters (or five quarters), they can file an appeal with the financial aid office to have their funding reinstated based on .

SB 150 also applies to students who may have disenrolled from an institution after not meeting SAP. Under the provisions, students who do not meet SAP and subsequently disenroll should have their Chafee funding reinstated upon re-enrollment. If the student who seeks to re-enroll did not meet SAP for two or more consecutive terms, the academic institution has the discretion to immediately reinstate their Chafee funding or require the student to complete a Student Success Plan or file an appeal (if SAP was unmet for four consecutive semesters or five consecutive quarters).

To learn more about the SB 150 provisions and review sample templates that academic institutions can utilize, .

Foster youth should also submit an appeal to have other financial aid reinstated. Students should visit their campus website to determine the process for submitting an appeal and can also visit SwiftStudent for guidance.

Do Unemployment Insurance payments impact foster care benefits?

Q: Some youth in foster care in our county are receiving unemployment insurance after losing their jobs or having their hours reduced as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Do these payments impact their foster care payment or their eligibility for placement or services at all?

A: No, the Unemployment Insurance being provided under the CARES Act does not have a bearing on foster care benefits. Unemployment Insurance is unearned income, which does count toward certain means-tested benefits, however the federal Children’s Bureau has advised the California Department of Social Services that CARES Act unemployment payments are not be considered income or resources when determining Title IV-E eligibility.

Citation: California Department of Social Services, All County Letter 20-81 (July 9, 2020). https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/Additional-Resources/Letters-and-Notices/ACLs/2020/20-81.pdf

Tagged , ,

Can youth receive unemployment in California?

Q: I understand that Congress is considering extending the current unemployment benefits. Can youth receive unemployment in California?

A: Yes, youth can receive unemployment insurance in California where there are no minimum age requirements, as long as they meet other eligibility requirements:

  • They lost job through no fault of their own
  • They earned enough money during a four-quarter base period:
    • $1,300 in the highest quarter of their base period* [or]
    • $900 in their highest quarter and
    • Total base period earnings of 1.25x their high quarter earnings
  • They must be able, available, and actively seeking work

*A base period is a specific 12-month term used to determine eligibility

It is also important to note that several youth may be eligible for unemployment insurance that previously were not. The categories of eligibility have been expanded to include the following types of workers impacted by the Coronavirus:

  • Self-employed workers (earned income from own work rather than as an employee)
  • Freelancers, e.g. baby-sitter, tutor, blogger, photographer, etc.
  • Independent contractors e.g. Lyft/Uber driver, barber/hair stylist, gardener, personal trainer, etc.
  • Part-time workers who had a reduction in hours

Weekly benefit amounts range from $40 to $450, and right now, those receiving unemployment get an additional $600 per week until the end of July. Congress is currently considering extending this additional benefit amount beyond July 31, 2020.

Apply for unemployment insurance HERE.

Read a fact sheet developed by the L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative for step-by-step instructions to apply, and for other helpful information about applying for unemployment insurance.

Tagged , ,

Will Unemployment Benefits and Stimulus Payments Impact Financial Aid?

Q: If a student receives unemployment benefits during COVID-19, do they need to report them as income on the FAFSA? What about other benefits like stimulus payments or emergency aid a student receives from their campus?

A: Unemployment benefits, including those received in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic, must be reported as income on the FAFSA.  Since the FAFSA is on a prior-prior year basis, this income, which will be reported on their 2020 federal income tax return,  and would be reported on the 2022-2023 FAFSA but would not impact their current financial aid award.

In contrast, Economic Impact Payments, or stimulus checks, are not considered taxable income and do not affect their financial aid eligibility, either now or in the future. These checks do not need to be reported on the FAFSA.

In addition, emergency financial aid grants to students and other financial aid received from the government in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic do not need to be reported as income on the FAFSA and do not affect students’ financial aid. Emergency aid from other than a governmental source, however, including emergency aid made available by a college campus not paid for by CARES Act funding, may be considered “Estimated Financial Assistance” and may reduce a student’s financial aid award. In this scenario, students should request that the financial aid office exercise professional judgment to increase the student’s cost of attendance to make room for the aid.

For further information on student emergency aid and taxation, refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance.

Tagged , , ,

Many More Youth are Entitled to Stimulus Checks

Q: Some of the college youth in my foster youth program have already received their COVID-19 stimulus payments from the government, but others have not. What accounts for this difference and what should I tell youth who have not yet received payment?

A: Many people are entitled to a stimulus payment but are unaware how to receive it. Youth who have a social security number, are not claimed as a dependent on anyone else’s tax form, and earn less than $75,000 gross annually (or within these parameters if they are married, head of household or parenting) qualify for funding. As of April 13, 2020, many people automatically received direct deposits in their bank accounts if they filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns and have a bank account on file with the IRS. Everyone falling outside of this scenario must either wait a bit longer or take action to receive their check.

If the youth filed 2018 or 2019 taxes but did not provide bank account information, they should expect to receive a physical check in the beginning of May. They can also visit the IRS website to update their bank account information. However, even if they did not file a tax return, they can still receive payment by filling out this IRS form. A youth who receives Social Security Insurance (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with no dependents, will also automatically receive a payment.

In general, qualified single filers will receive $1,200, and potentially more, if they are married or parenting. Youth are encouraged to apply, even if they are unsure if they qualify. They can check the status of their check at any time here and refer to a Q&A by the Alliance for Children’s Rights for further information on eligibility and common scenarios.

Tagged , ,