Interested foster youth must apply for the scholarship by July 8. (Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock Getty Images)

ASPIRE529 returns to give financial aid to foster children

Jarek RutzEducation, Headlines

Interested foster youth must apply for the scholarship by July 8. (Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock Getty Images)

Interested foster youth must apply for the scholarship by July 8. (Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock Getty Images)

A state program that seeks to help foster children in Delaware afford college is back for a third year.

ASPIRE529 rewards 20 qualified applicants $529 to youth in or aging out of the foster care system seeking higher education.

“The high school graduation rate for youth in foster care in Delaware is just over 50%, with less than 5%t of that same group graduating from a four-year college,” said State Treasurer Colleen Davis in a statement. “While we know there are many issues tied to those statistics, the financial ability to seek higher education is routinely cited as a major cause.”

For reference, the overall state graduation rate is about 88%.

Interested candidates have a month to act, with the application period closing Saturday, July 8.

If awarded, the money can be used towards accompanying costs associated with obtaining a degree in higher education such as paying for books and supplies, materials required for skills training, transportation costs and child care.

ASPIRE529 aims to support young Delawareans who have experienced foster care as they transition to adulthood to overcome financial obstacles as they pursue their educational aspirations, stated Tamara Myles, transitional & independent living program manager with the Department of Services for Children, Youth, & Their Families (DSCYF) Division of Family Services.

All applicants must be under the age of 26.

Other eligibility requirements are:

To be eligible for an award, a student must:

  • At least 14 years old and currently in DSCYF custody (foster care); or exited DSCYF custody to adoption or guardianship at the age of 16 years or older; or aged out of foster care in Delaware at age 18.
  • Complete a current-year Delaware Aspire529 application prior to the July 8 deadline.
  • Be a Delaware resident.
  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or approved refugee.
  • Be an undergraduate student.
  • Show proof of enrollment or attendance at an institution of higher learning or trade school, and if already attending, must be making satisfactory academic or vocational progress toward completion of that program. Proof of enrollment or attendance can be requested through your school’s registrar or administrative offices.

According to the DSCYF, at any given time, there are over 500 children in Delaware who need foster families.

An important component of the ASPIRE529 program is accountability and education on the part of the award recipients.

Before receiving the money, each winner must complete financial literacy coaching from Stand By Me, a financial coaching program partnership of the state and the United Way of Delaware.

This is not simply a handout, Davis said.

“Getting money and knowing the best way to handle money are two different things,” she said. “We want to make sure these recipients understand the value of not only this money, but the earnings they’ll make as a result of their continuing education.”

Click here to apply.

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