From Foster Care to College

How ETV scholarships help children succeed at secondary education

archway at University of Michigan representing the path from foster care to collegeMalaysha White had the end of childhood in sight when everything for her family fell apart.

A high school senior at Cass Technical with college on the horizon, White’s world turned upside down when her mother to fell into a deep depression and her father spiraled downward with his drinking. While six siblings were removed from their parents’ home and separated into foster care across the metro area, White ended up in a shelter alone.

That’s why her forthcoming college graduation from the University of Michigan April 27th is all the more special. The dedicated, hard-working young woman has always kept her focus on the long-term, and college scholarships for former foster children certainly helped her get there.

ETV (Educational Training Voucher) funding helped White pay for braces, buy a computer, study abroad in Argentina for a semester, among other expenses. During college, she participated in the Blavin Scholars program for former foster children.

An Information Science major, White is graduating with a degree in IT, and a job that she’ll start in July as a systems engineer in Denver. “My goal was to secure a job offer by December,” she says. “I’m glad I did that. I am ready to graduate!”

Samaritas has administered the state of Michigan’s ETV program since 2006. To qualify for ETV funding, youth must have been in foster care on or after their 14th birthday. The scholarships are also available to youth who were in a state-supervised foster care placement or who were unaccompanied refugee minors supervised by state agencies, on or after their 14th birthday.

If they were adopted from foster care, the adoption would have to occur on or after they turned 16. All applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and attend at least half-time an accredited school that awards a Bachelor’s degree, a two-year program that provides credit toward a degree, at least one year of training toward gainful employment or a vocational program that provides training.

ETV recipients can apply every year that they are in college, reapplying each semester, as long as they maintain a 2.0 GPA to receive the maximum benefits. They must receive their first scholarship prior to turning 21 and can continue to receive funding until their 23rd birthday.

ETV funding can pay for anything needed during college, from educational expenses to housing, groceries, transportation and other daily living costs.

Recently, the amount of funding available to college students who were in foster care at some point during their teenage years increased. Michigan ETV recipients can now receive $5,000 for the year for full-time college students, or $2,500 for the year for part-time students. The amounts were formerly $4,500 and $2,250, respectively. Students can apply by calling (877) 660-6388.

Every state has an ETV program. Last year, Samaritas helped 500 kids. In previous years, Samaritas served more than 730 kids annually, with numbers correlating to the number of students exiting care.

“We desire to serve even more high school graduates and support them in their journey to break the cycle of poverty through education and employment,” says Vickie Thompson-Sandy, Samaritas President, who oversees the services Samaritas delivers. “Poverty is a contributory factor for families that experience disruption. Malaysha’s story is exactly the outcome we desire!”    

“Our goal as an organization is to empower individuals and communities to achieve their highest potential,” says Sam Beals, Samaritas CEO. “We are honored to administer the state ETV funding program to worthy students, helping them attain education that enables them to contribute to their communities and families in meaningful ways.”

Former foster child in college dormEvery state has an ETV program. ETV funding can pay for anything needed during college, from educational expenses to housing, groceries, transportation and other daily living costs.

Here at Samaritas, it’s our goal to guide every individual and family we serve toward their own success. It is our honor to administer the ETV program for the entire state of Michigan, lifting up more and more youth toward higher education and eventual success in life.

Tanya Maki is the ETV coordinator for Samaritas.

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