Tag Archives: postsecondary education

Question of the Week-Cal Grant Time Limits

Q: I was awarded a Cal Grant to attend community college, but my counselor is telling me I shouldn’t take the money because it could run out later. Could you explain why I wouldn’t want to accept this money?

A: Currently, the Cal Grant is available only for a maximum of four years of full-time enrollment at a community college, CSU, UC or private institution. At a community college, the grant provides up to $1,672 to cover non-tuition costs, such as books, housing and transportation. At a 4-year university, the money can also be used to pay for tuition costs and therefore provides significantly more: up to $7,414 for a student attending a CSU campus, $14,302 for students attending a UC campus and $10,756 for students enrolled at a qualifying private institution. If you utilize the funding while in community college, you run the risk of not having enough funds remaining when you transfer to a university and when the available benefit is significantly more.

It should also be noted, that this limitation would change if Senate Bill 940 passes. For foster youth specifically, the maximum time would be extended from four to eight years, allowing students to utilize the grant throughout their educational career. To support the passage of this bill, please consider sending in a letter of support as well as sign on to the budget request letter to expand Cal Grant access for foster youth. Support letters can be sent to Carolyn@jbay.org

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Question of the Week-Independent Status on FAFSA

Q: How do I know if I qualify for independent status on the FAFSA, and what exactly does it mean to be an independent student?

A: Independent Status” on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) means that youth do not have to provide any information, including income and asset information, about their biological, adoptive, or foster parents (including relative or non-relative caregivers) or legal guardians in the Parent Demographics section. This will mean that parental contribution is not added into a student’s contribution to determine his or her Estimated Financial Contribution (EFC), the index number that determines how much a student can pay for education and how much financial aid students receive.

If any of the below applies to students, then they qualify as independent students on the FAFSA:

  • Was an orphan, foster child, or ward/dependent of the court at any time since the age of 13
  • Age 24 or older at any time before December 31st of the award year
  • Was determined at any time since July 1st of award year to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless
  • Is married as of the date student applies
  • Will be a graduate or professional student when the award year starts
  • Is currently serving on active duty for purposes other than training
  • Is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Has dependents other than a spouse

Citation: U.S Department of Education, Office of Federal Student Aid, 2018-2019 Application and Verification Guide https://ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/attachments/1819FSAHbkAVG.pdf

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Selecting a Housing Plan on FAFSA

Q: I am completing the FAFSA and on the page where I indicate which schools I want my information sent to, it asks me to indicate if I will be living on-campus, off-campus or with parents. I am currently in foster care and have lived with my aunt since I entered the system, and I plan to continue living with her while I go to community college. Which option do I select?

A: You would select “off-campus.” Students should not select “With Parent” as their housing plan if they plan to live with a foster parent, relative caregiver, or legal guardian. Instead, select “Off-Campus.” This is crucial for getting all the money that is available to you to pay for your living expenses. The option you select has an impact on how much money you receive as the “cost of attendance” is considered more when living off-campus than when living with a parent. For more tips on how to complete the FAFSA, check out the Financial Aid Guide for California Foster Youth.

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Career and Technical Education (CTE) Resources

Q: Is there any way to easily learn more about Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at the community colleges and find out what types of credentials are available at my local colleges?

 

A: There are a number of new online tools now available to help students research and understand CTE options at the community colleges. My Path walks users through the steps involved with community college matriculation and includes information on career options, choosing a college, applying for college and financial aid. The Career Coach offers links to career assessment tests, data on wages, employment and training for jobs in a range of sectors, and a searchable database of programs in different fields. The Salary Surfer uses the aggregated earnings of graduates from a five-year period to provide an estimate on the potential wages to be earned two years and five years after receiving a certificate or degree in certain disciplines. This tool also provides information on which colleges offer programs in each specific discipline.

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Extended foster care eligibility: attending school as a participation condition

Q:  My foster child will be turning 18 in the summer and wants to attend community college. Will that qualify him to be eligible for extended foster care?

A:  In order to be eligible for extended foster care, a youth must meet with one of five participation criteria. One of the five criteria is being enrolled in an institution which provides postsecondary or vocational education. In order to satisfy the criteria, a nonminor dependent must be enrolled at least half-time. In most institutions, including the California public college and university systems, this will consist of enrollment in at least six semester course units or quarter course equivalent.  As stated in ACL 11-69 on page 10, “a nonminor dependent on summer break from school is still considered participating as long as they are enrolled for the following semester.”  (Scheduled school breaks do not affect the eligibility status of nonminor dependents). There is more information about the post-secondary or vocational education participation criterion starting on page 23 of ACL 11-69.

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