If you work hard and apply for as much aid as possible, you’ll end up paying less of your own money for your education!
There are four main ways to apply for financial aid:
1. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): This application asks you to enter information about your financial situation. It determines if you’re eligible for federal loans, Pell grants, and work-study. Also, the federal government, your state, and your specific college, might all have different deadline dates. On the FAFSA website there is a deadline search tool where you can find out more specifically what the specific deadlines are.
-When you’re filling it out make sure you are identified as applying as an independent adult. On the dependency determination page, there is a questions that states: “At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?” Mark “yes,” then continue to follow the prompts. This will determine your filing status as independent.
-There will also be a question that asks: “Do you want to answer questions about your parents?” Make sure to mark ‘No.’ Parental info is not required in order for you to receive financial aid because you are filing as an independent, not a dependent. You will not be penalized for marking ‘no,’ and by saying ‘yes’ you will be required to fill out unnecessary paperwork.
-When setting up your PIN, pick your own PIN. This will save you time, as you can apply without waiting for a response.
-Make sure you get a Ward of the State letter from your caseworker or Chafee worker, as they will need it to verify your independent adult status. You can also download a copy of the required form below,and take it, or mail it, to the county court where you were in foster care and they will complete it for you.
Proof of Foster Care Status Form: CO Confirmation of Foster Care Dependency4-15
Understanding the FAFSA – walkthrough guide
2. College Opportunity Fund (COF): The COF was created by the Colorado Legislature and offers a stipend to eligible undergraduate students. You have to be enrolled in a participating Colorado college or university in order to receive the stipend.
3. Educational Training Voucher (ETV): The Colorado Educational and Training Voucher Program (ETV) is a federally-funded, state-administered program designed to help youth who were in foster care. Students may receive up to $5000 a year for qualified school related expenses. Funding is limited, and available on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible students. Applicants must complete the ETV application, which includes documentation each semester that is sent directly from the school to ETV confirming enrollment, the cost of attendance (COA), and unmet needs. Click here for more information about ETV. Applications can be submitted after July 1 for the following academic year (e.g. you apply in July 2015 for funding for the 2015 fall semester). Apply as soon as possible after July 1 to minimize any delays in funding for the fall semester.
4. Scholarships and Grants: There is a TON of money out there to help you attend school, pay for books, and help pay for whatever other expenses you have that are related to going to school, including living expenses. Many scholarships don’t get enough qualified applicants, so the money isn’t always distributed. Don’t let that money sit on the table, go for it!
Helen McLoraine Foster Care Scholarship Program for Foster Care: The Helen M. McLoraine Scholarship Program for Foster Care and Emancipating Youth was created to provide educational scholarships for foster care youth who are emancipated or are in the process of preparing to emancipate from the foster care system in Colorado. Application is due end of March. Check this link to find the application and learn about many other scholarship opportunities.
Here are a few websites and resources to help you start the search.
College in Colorado Scholarship Finder
College Scholarships – 2013 to 2014
Guide to Scholarships for New Americans and Minorities
Funding Education Beyond High School
Educational Opportunity Center
College In Colorado
The Denver Foundation