By tamaraDid you know that November is National Adoption Month? It is estimated that more than 400,000 children are living without permanent families in the United States and that over 27,000 of those children will age out of foster care this year. Although most Americans favor adoption, few have taken the necessary steps to formally adopt a child. One deterrent may be the cost of raising a child, which can easily run over $240,000 from birth to high school graduation. When you factor in the average cost of a college education that figure can skyrocket to nearly $350,000 (at today’s rate). Thankfully, there are some resources that can help reduce the expenses of a college degree for those who have spent time in the foster system or have been adopted from a state-run foster program. For example, The North American Council on Adoptable Children has a robust listing of states that offer college tuition waiver programs, which can greatly reduce the tuition fees for those attending colleges within the state’s system, including community colleges, universities, and technical colleges. Students may also qualify for grants and scholarships that are specifically for foster and adopted children, such as: 1. Kansas Foster and Adoptive Children Scholarship Fund Students who have been foster children in the State of Kansas, or adopted from a Kansas program, may be eligible for scholarships through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. The amount of each scholarship varies, but students may apply in either the spring (July 1) or fall (November 1) semester. For more information, students can email [email protected]. 2. NFPA Youth Scholarship Each spring, the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) awards up to five scholarships to foster or adopted children of NFPA members. The scholarships may be used to defray costs of attending college, vocational schools or job training programs. In addition to the Youth Scholarship, NFPA also partners with the University of Phoenix and awards an additional five scholarships to those pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree at the college. For more information on either of these programs, contact [email protected] or call 800-557-5238. 3. North Carolina Reach Legal residents of North Carolina, who have aged out of foster care or were adopted after the age of 12, may be eligible to receive funding to cover their college tuition and fees without having to take out student loans. Students must attend one of the 74 North Carolina public community colleges, colleges or universities, and be enrolled for a minimum of six credit hours. Students must reapply each year, after July 1, for a maximum of four years or until they turn 26, whichever occurs first. For more information, call 800-585-6112. 4. The Sponsored Scholarship Program Each year, Foster Care to Success (FC2S) connects hundreds of students, who are aging out of foster care, with individual and corporate sponsors that will help pay for tuition and other college-related fees. In addition to the financial assistance, students also receive support from the FC2S Team, including academic and career coaching, care packages and internship opportunities. For more information, contact Tina Raheem at [email protected]. 5. OFA/Casey Family Scholars Scholarship International and U.S. students who have been in foster care for a minimum of one year prior to their 18th birthday, or have lost both parents and have never been adopted, may receive up to $6,000 per year through this program. The scholarships are renewable for an additional five years or until completion of an undergraduate degree, whichever comes first. Each year, 50 to 100 awards are offered. The next deadline is tentatively set for March 31. For more information, contact [email protected]. 6. Dorothy and Robert DeBolt Scholarship Students who are 25 years of age or younger, and have been adopted after being in the California foster care system, may be eligible to receive $2,000 for tuition, books and other fees. Students must be legal residents of California, but may attend any U.S. accredited college, university or trade school. A history of community service is also required. Applications must be received by May 31. Additional information may be obtained by contacting [email protected]. Many colleges also provide grants and scholarships to foster and adopted children. Arizona State University awards a number of scholarships, valued up to $8,000 annually, to students under the age of 21. To be eligible, the students must be enrolled full time and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students should always check with their financial aid department to ensure they are not missing out on any potential financial aid, as well as national and community organizations that support foster and adoptive families. It’s also a good idea for students to widen their search for scholarships to include programs that may be for merit (grades), athletics, creative writing, and other talents or skills.