A new Pennsylvania law will give foster kids a tuition-free ride at colleges in the Commonwealth.

A new Pennsylvania law will give foster kids a tuition-free ride at colleges in the Commonwealth.

READING, PA (July 26, 2019) – A new state law and the Susan E. Kraus/Robert W. Gill Fund of Berks County Community Foundation make college more accessible to foster kids.

A recent report from The Morning Call gives details about the Fostering Independence Through Education Act. The act was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on June 28. The act “waives college tuition in Pennsylvania for youth who were in foster care at age 16 or older, including those who have ‘aged out’ of the system or been adopted.

“All Pennsylvania colleges and universities, including public, private, community colleges and state-related schools, will begin accepting the waivers for the fall 2020 semester. The waivers, which also cover college application fees, can be used for up to five years or until a student reaches age 26.”

Kraus/Gill Fund

In addition to this assistance, the Kraus/Gill Fund provides grants for recently discharged adults who were once foster children who either lived in a Berks County foster home and/or were Berks County residents at the time of their placement in foster care.

The fund has distributed $19,511 in grants since it was established in 2012.

The grants are to assist recipients with transitional housing costs in general and/or educational expenses. Grants to each individual do not exceed $1,000 per year. Social workers or case workers with Berks County Juvenile Probation Office, Berks County Children and Youth, or other agencies who work with foster children may submit an application on a client’s behalf as he or she transitions out of foster care.

When establishing the fund, Gill said: “Many former foster children are eligible for state or federal aid for college or career training, but they’re unable to take advantage of it because they don’t have the money they need for a critical expense, such as a computer or textbooks, or a security deposit for an apartment they can otherwise afford. If a grant from the fund can help them get on their feet, then we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.”

For more information and/or to receive an application, email Monica Reyes, the Community Foundation’s Health and Human Services Program Officer, or call 610-685-2223.