TEXAS, USA — For five years now I have been emceeing events for the Child Protection Connection, and its program Texas Lawyers for Children, which represents and advocates for Texas children who are navigating the court system and the foster care system.
At the latest event recently, I shared the stage with couple of extraordinary young people who have now exited foster care and are doing very well in college.
Free tuition and fees for foster and adopted youth in Texas
One of them talked about how she almost missed out on higher education because she didn't know college would be free for her. She definitely should've been told that. Every one of the thousands of foster children in Texas should be formally told that. I can’t control that, but I can tell them informally.
So, here goes--this message is for anyone in this state who is in foster care or has aged out of foster care and is under the age of 25. This message is also for foster parents or anyone else who knows someone in foster care or who has recently aged out: Texas has a program that covers all tuition costs and fees for young people in these groups. All Texas public colleges and universities are required to participate in this program.
Let’s add to the list now--youth who were adopted from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services are also covered by the free tuition and fees program.
Many of these young people have had difficult pasts. Giving them a shot at a college education gives them a chance at a much brighter future. But they have to know about it to take advantage of it.
Tuition and fee exemptions for Texans who are blind or deaf
While we’re at it, those who are blind or deaf also have exemptions from paying tuition and fees at Texas public colleges and universities. Here is more information about free college and university tuition and fees for those who are blind and deaf.
Many other Texas students missing out on a lot of financial aid
Of course, most students aren't exempt from tuition and fees. But a lot of Texas students are missing out on financial aid.
The National College Attainment Network estimates that in 2021, Texas students missed out on $495,973,418 in Pell Grants just because they didn’t fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
If your child missed the initial opportunity to fill out a FAFSA for the current school year (2021-2022), or if they still need to fill out one for the upcoming school year (2022-2023), they have until June 30 to get that done. Click here for more information.
Texas seniors about to graduate have a new box to check. Before they walk across the stage, they have to meet the new requirement of submitting a FAFSA or a TASFA (Texas Application for State Financial Aid) or submit a signed opt-out form.
This may help a lot more students get financial aid, because money—and a lot of it—is sitting on the table.