New York City Mayor, Eric Adams and New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner, Jess Dannhauser on Tuesday announced “College Choice,” a program that will provide college students in foster care with greater support systems, including financial support, so they can attend the college of their dreams without having to worry about the hefty price tag.
As part of the program, Adams said ACS will help pay remaining costs of college tuition — up to $15,000 each year — in addition to any room and board not covered by a student’s financial aid package.
College students in foster care will also receive a $60 daily stipend per year, which can be used towards food, clothing, transportation and more, the mayor said.
He said all youth in foster care will additionally be able to keep the coaching they already receive through “Fair Futures,” which has provided thousands of youth in foster care, ages 11 to 21, with dedicated coaches and tutors since 2019.
The Adams administration recently expanded “Fair Futures” for youth ages 21-26.
Further, the New York Foundling — a non-profit social service organization that supports young people in foster care— will provide students with tutoring, career counseling, and other related services.
“College Choice will provide college students in foster care with the support they need to complete their college education successfully and attend the school of their choice, regardless of cost,” said Mayor Adams. “This new program provides our young people in foster care help in covering up to $15,000 in tuition costs each year not covered by financial aid, as well as room and board, and even provides a daily stipend for food or clothes.
“Growing up has never been more challenging,” he added. “So, we are holding up the torch to support our young people. No students’ chances for success should depend on factors outside of their control. Now, our youth in foster care can attend a community college, a CUNY, a SUNY, an Ivy League, an HBCU, or any other school they dream of without worrying about how they pay for their education.”
“This program is truly remarkable. College Choice will provide the opportunity for young people in the foster care system to pursue their goals and dreams, with reliable, realistic, and sustained support,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams Isom. “The program accounts for day-to-day expenses and real-world costs, all of which give young people the sincere chance to advance educational attainment and likely their lifetime earning ability. Thank you to ACS for its leadership and to all of our philanthropic and nonprofit partners for making this program possible.”
“New York City is making sure more doors of opportunity are open for young people in foster care, and the College Choice program is just one more way that we are doing that,” said ACS Commissioner Dannhauser.
“This new program will mean that young people in foster care can attend the college of their dreams without having to worry about the financial nightmare,” he added. “No matter the school — east coast, west coast, public, private, two years, or four years — ACS will support our young scholars in foster care. We are thrilled to launch the ‘College Choice’ program and I am confident it will help put more and more young people on the path to success.”
“A college degree is a major step toward upward mobility and economic freedom, but it is often out of reach for students because they can’t pay for costs not covered by financial aid. I’m proud of New York City for providing a financial pathway for young people in foster care to pay for tuition, room and board costs, and other essentials, like food and transportation,” said The City University of New York (CUNY) Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.
“These young people shouldn’t have to go hungry or build debt to attend college,” he added. “More than half of the students benefiting from College Choice this academic year are attending a CUNY college and we are grateful to Mayor Adams for helping these young people get the support they need to achieve their educational dreams.”
“With the Dorm Project, I was able to pursue my dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees without having to worry about my financial situation. I was really able to just focus on my goals and my studies. The College Choice program is now a resource available to all youth in care if they choose to pursue higher education,” said Sanjida Afruz, student participant in College Choice at City College. “The College Choice program essentially says that young people in foster care can and should dream big. With time and evident passion from people, like Mayor Adams and Commissioner Dannhauser, we are seeing changes that we have advocated for, and it makes me happier than ever.”
“For over 150 years, The Foundling has been dedicated to serving our community. Our Fostering College Success Initiative is an example of how we have responded to meet the needs of the children and families that we serve,” said Melanie Hartzog, president and chief executive officer, The New York Foundling.
“We are grateful to the Adams administration and the Administration for Children’s Services for launching the College Choice program and expanding the vital supports provided by the Fostering College Success Initiative,” she added. “Continuing this partnership means equipping College Choice participants with the necessary framework to reach their full potential.”
College Choice builds off the Adams administration’s investments in upstream solutions and deep commitment to improving educational outcomes for youth in foster care, and helping ensure they lead healthy, productive, and self-sufficient adult lives.
Adams said all full-time college students in foster care will be eligible for the benefits as long as they have applied for financial aid, maintain a 2.0 grade point average, and participate in any academic support programs for which they’re eligible.
He said benefits will be available for a maximum of three years for an associate degree or five years for a bachelor’s degree.
College Choice will offer all full-time college students in foster care the following benefits, among others, covered by ACS: Tuition and mandatory fees (up to $15,000 per year) that are not covered by a student’s financial aid award; the cost of room and board; and a stipend of $60 per day to cover food and other expenses while attending school (This benefit is also available for up to six months after graduation from college).
Students attending a college or university in New York City can choose to live in housing sponsored by that college or university, or in one of the following six housing options: The Towers at City College of New York; The Summit at Queens College; Hunter College Residence Hall (only for students attending Hunter College); International House of New York
92Y Residence; and Outpost-Club Student Housing in New York City.
Students attending in-person classes at a college or university outside of New York City can live in housing sponsored by that college or university, or in safe and appropriate off-campus private housing.
Students enrolled only in online classes at a college or university can live in housing sponsored by that college or university, or in any of the six housing options for New York City students.
Students who want to stay in college/university housing during the summer are required to be engaged in meaningful summer activities (such as participating in an internship or taking classes).
Students can receive tutoring, career counseling, and related support provided online and in-person by New York Foundling staff.
Students can maintain their Fair Futures coach while in college.
Fair Futures has been in place since 2019, but the Adams administration recently provided additional resources to ACS, so that Fair Futures could be expanded to include youth in foster care from ages 21 to 26.
Previously, students in foster care were eligible to participate in The Fostering College Success Initiative, also known as “The Dorm Project,” which provided year-round housing and academic supports to youth in foster care attending CUNY schools.
ACS also offered the Fostering College Success Stipend, which provided college students in foster care with a $31 daily stipend.
Adams said College Choice expands upon these offerings by providing similar benefits to all students in foster care, regardless of which college they choose to attend.
He said New York City is the first jurisdiction in the nation to implement an initiative for youth in foster care of this breadth and scale.
Earlier this year, the Adams administration also announced a new vocational training and apprenticeship program, VCRED, for youth, ages 16-24, who are in foster care, as well as youth who recently left foster care or the juvenile justice system.
Adams said about 230 young people in New York City foster care will benefit this upcoming school year from College Choice.
“New York City’s College Choice program will ensure that youth raised in care have the opportunity to obtain a college degree, regardless of what school they plan to attend,” said New York State Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud, the Guyanese-born representative for the 19th Senate District in Brooklyn.
“This year, more than 200 New York City youth in foster care will attend college under this program, and I wish them well in their studies,” she added.
“As a former foster mom, I know first-hand the types of challenges that students in foster care experience,” said New York City Councilmember Rita Joseph, a Haitian-born, former public school teacher in Brooklyn.
“College Choice represents an exceptional opportunity for this marginalized student population to receive a quality college education, and I applaud this announcement,” she added. “We can’t allow foster students to be forgotten anymore.”