Our office hosted a webinar for counselors last month about the issues facing homeless students and students who are aging out of foster care.
Our speaker was Greta Munns, the Outreach Specialist for Fostering Success at UW-Stout, which is part of the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute. She has been empowering foster youth on the state and national levels since the age of 18, so she definitely qualifies as an expert.
The homeless and foster youth populations are intertwined—if not before college, then during college. They come with a variety of issues that can be as basic as needing a place to live over spring break, needing to buy laundry detergent, or knowing how to find supper tonight.
The answer to many of their issues involves money. Good news: eligible students may receive a generous financial aid package based on their answers to questions in the FAFSA. However, they will still likely need to take out loans or find other ways to fill the gap.
To help these students finance their education, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) offers $5,000 scholarships of federal funds that are renewable annually. There is also a DCF scholarship available to these students ($5,000 maximum). Other scholarship awards may exist as well, and students may check with the financial aid office at the campus they’d like to attend.
The answer to many of these students’ other issues comes from having a caring support system. Greta explained the myriad of services available to students who enter UW-Stout from homelessness or foster care. The support from UW-Stout’s Fostering Success program is quite impressive! Look here www.uwstout.edu/admissions/foster-youth.cfm for more info.
Each UW System campus has a foster youth liaison who has volunteered to take on that role in addition to his or her regular responsibilities. There are two ways to find info about a campus’s foster youth liaison. You may email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go here dcf.wisconsin.gov/youthservices/college and click WI Dept of Children and Families Resources, then click Campus Contacts for Foster Youth.
Regarding advocating for homeless youth: please contact the admission director at the student’s campus of interest. Here is a link providing some scholarship opportunities specifically for homeless youth nche.ed.gov/ibt/scholarships.php.
Finally, at this website uwexics.adobeconnect.com/p7cil7voas7/ you’ll find a recording of the 45-minute webinar. Greta and her UW System colleagues are ready to answer questions about and serve students transitioning from homelessness and/or foster care.