On Thursday, March 28, Passaic County CASA welcomed Brittany Harris, Scholarship Coordinator at embrella. Based in Princeton, embrella’s mission is to provide advocacy and enriching services to families and youth, including financial aid guidance and scholarship administration to foster, adoptive, kinship and homeless youth. Ms. Harris provided an overview of the steps that youth who are considering or planning to attend college should pursue in order to finance their education.
This can be a complicated process for them to undertake on their own, and so it is a great area for CASA volunteers to provided added support to their college-bound youth. Ultimately, the goal is to get the full cost of tuition covered by pursuing multiple funding sources including federal, state, and institutional grants.
A critical first step is for the student to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), starting in October of his/her senior year of high school. He/she will need an email address, a driver’s license number, a social security number, and a copy of his/her prior year tax return. There is also an Alternative FAFSA for undocumented youth in New Jersey.
Once the FAFSA is completed, the student’s submission confirmation email will have a link to the NJ Tuition Aid Grant. This is a grant that is available to students residing in NJ and attending a NJ school.
Another revenue stream to consider is the New Jersey Foster Care Scholars Program, which is administered by the State of NJ’s Department of Children and Families, and is available for eligible foster, adoptive, kinship, and homeless youth, as well as the New Jersey State Tuition Waiver Program. This Waiver Program is available for students pursuing full-time education in a NJ public school, and can be applied toward tuition and fees.
Another program Ms. Harris discussed is Pathways to Academic and Career Exploration to Success (PACES), which provides 1-on-1 coaching to adolescents in foster care between the ages of 16-21.
CASA Volunteers interested in learning more about these programs and if the youth on their case is eligible are encouraged to contact embrella.
Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) empowers volunteer advocates to champion the best interests of children in the foster care system. Our monthly In-Service Series features expert speakers on topics of relevance to CASA volunteers with the goal of promoting continual learning and advancing effective advocacy of children in the foster care system.