Delaware bill could waive tuition for youth aging out of foster care
DELAWARE- More financial aid for Youth Aging out the foster care system, that’s the mission behind Delaware’s House Bill 123 if passed.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to say we want a chance to offer stability in education, that ultimate equalizer, for you to have a chance to build a foundation of independence,” Representative Bryan Shupe said.
The legislation, introduced Tuesday, would ensure those aging out of the foster care system at 18 or later or who’ve spent at least one year in foster care as a teen, there’s access to a college education, by waiving tuition and fees- including room and board.
“The most important piece is we have students that can access quality education, that graduate and really contribute in our community in a big way,” Bobbi Barends, Vice President and Campus Director for Del Tech, said.
The bill would require schools like Delaware State University and Delaware Tech Community College to participate.
Both schools said they already help this population.
Del Tech added this would create more support for those facing challenges.
“Over 40 percent of our students have indicated that they have food insecurities, we know that many of our students our homeless,” Barends said.
One Delaware lawmaker said while she appreciates the intent, she has concerns about costs and where the money will come from.
“We need to be fair about what we do because if we expect the universities to have for this then the likely hood that they will increase in tuition room and board and fees for those other students,” Representative Ruth Briggs King said.
And despite how pricey it could get if the bill is passed, colleges we spoke with say providing access to students is a big priority.
“It would be dependent upon us to seek other financial aid resources, to make up for that money, so regardless of how successful we are in the financial aid end of things we are supportive of this legislation,” Carlos Holmes, Director of News Services at DSU, said.