Foster Youth Legislation Updates
California’s Efforts to Increase Access to Financial Aid for Foster and Homeless Youth
Five recent bills have made financial aid access easier for foster youth and students experiencing homelessness. SB 12 was passed in 2017 and provides a mechanism for automated verification of foster youth status by college financial aid offices and requires social workers and probation officers to identify in the case plan who will assist youth 16 and older with applications for college and financial aid. In 2018, AB 1809 adopted new, expanded eligibility requirements for the State’s largest financial aid program, the Cal Grant, to make the program more accessible to foster youth. In 2019, SB 150 streamlined procedures for the Chafee Education and Training Voucher program. In 2020, SB 860 provides additional support for foster youth to complete a FAFSA while in high school and AB 2416 makes it easier for students to maintain financial aid if they become homeless.
SB 860 IMPLEMENTATION
Multiple studies have shown that financial aid receipt positively impacts grade point average, transfer rates and undergraduate degree attainment, making it an essential college completion tool for foster youth. And yet, historically, foster youth were less likely to gain access to financial aid than their peers. SB 860, passed in 2020, clarifies the role of Foster Youth Services Coordinating Programs (FYSCPs) to include coordination of efforts to support FAFSA completion among foster youth who are high school seniors. It also adds FAFSA completion rates to their bi-annual reporting requirement.
AB 2416 IMPLEMENTATION
Every year, thousands of students in California’s colleges and universities lose access to financial aid because they fall below certain academic standards known as Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). Most colleges do offer the opportunity to appeal the loss of financial aid due to SAP, but appeals processes vary tremendously by campus. Assembly Bill 2416 requires colleges to consider homelessness as an extenuating circumstance when evaluating appeals for the loss of financial aid. AB 2416 will make it easier for college students who have experienced homelessness to remain enrolled and have access to higher education.
SB 150 IMPLEMENTATION
Senate Bill 150 took effect on January 1, 2020. The new law allows foster youth who receive a Chafee Education and Training Voucher to continue to receive funds for up to two years before losing access based on satisfactory academic progress standards. Prior to SB 150, funds were lost after just one year. The Chafee ETV is the only financial aid source created specifically for current and former foster youth. It provides up to $5,000 in financial aid each academic year to eligible foster youth.