New California Financial Aid Law To Help Former Foster Youth in College

Former foster youth enrolled in college or career training will now have more time to pull up their grades before losing their federal-state Chafee grants.

Until now, such students would lose their $5,000 annual grant if they failed to make satisfactory academic progress for two consecutive semesters, unless they are able to successfully appeal under their school’s process. 

Now, under a new California law championed by former state Sen. Jim Beall (D), students will have two years to get back on track, said Debbie Raucher, education director at John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY). Senate Bill 150, among other things, also requires changes to schools’ appeals processes to make them more student-friendly to foster youth.

The new law also makes some changes to the process for disbursing grants to students so that more recipients will receive the money earlier in the academic year, if not before it starts. 

The Chafee Education and Training Voucher program serves qualifying former foster youth up to age 26. Each year the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spreads about $45 million across states, and states must match at least 20 percent of the allocation. California receives about $5.2 million each year from HHS, but typically spends around $13 million in state dollars on its voucher program.

JBAY, which has developed a toolkit to help schools and advocates support the law’s implementation, will hold a webinar on expanding access to financial aid under SB 150 on April 28 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Click here for more information about the webinar and click here to register.  

Chuck Carroll is a freelance journalist and editor working with The Chronicle.

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