For youth leaving provincial care, the pursuit of a post-secondary education can be daunting. While most teens who graduate from high school face challenges and worries related to further education, young people leaving care often have no family support system to fall back on. With the backing of the provincial government, as well as universities and colleges, the 100% Tuition Aid for Youth Leaving Care program provides current and former Crown wards with vital financial aid that can help make their dreams reality.
The program provides up to $6,000 per academic year to cover tuition fees. As much as half of the fees (up to $3,000) may come from the Ontario Access Grant, Ontario Access Grant for Crown Wards and/or 30% Off Ontario Tuition grant through OSAP. The other half of a student’s tuition fees (up to $3,000) would be funded by their college or university.
“Youth who have come through the system will be able to access education and not be
burdened with debt upon graduation,” says Melissa Hulshof, program coordinator at Quinte Children’s Homes. “I appreciate that a number of youth in our province are burdened with debt at completion of college and university but these same youth typically have a parent’s couch to flop on over the holidays and/or a grandparent to feed them a warm meal while they are struggling to get on their feet post graduation.”
For a lot of youth in care, this isn’t an option, says Hulshof. “They are burdened with debt, have no place to call home, and are often working through a variety of challenges in an effort to break the cycle of where they came from. There are always exceptions but in our experience the kids really do have to walk it alone once they are no longer on someone’s caseload at CAS.”
Who is eligible?
Applicants must first meet the eligibility requirements for funding from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for full-time students. Applicants must be a current or former Crown ward or receive or have formerly received an allowance or transitional support from an Ontario Children’s Aid Society. They must be enrolled in an undergraduate program and have been assessed as having at least $1 of financial need under the provincial portion of the Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan. They must also attend a participating Ontario college or university.
How to apply
Apply using the OSAP application for full-time students either online or in the paper format. For those determined eligible, the Ministry notifies the school. The student is then considered for the school-funded portion. Take note of any application and document deadlines for the school year in which you apply. Be prepared to provide documentation regarding current or former status with the Children’s Aid Society.
“With QCH we work hard at keeping our kids connected to supports,” says Hulshof. “Often our kids will pop back into the office in their early twenties to ask for a little help with something – a place to sleep or help building a resume or assistance applying for benefits. Sometimes it’s just to say ‘hi.’ Our management team keeps our doors open to our youth but more importantly our
foster parents often do too. News of the 100% tuition aid was shared with many of our youth who have since left care and now we wait to see who takes advantage of it.”
The Children’s Aid Foundation also funds a number of scholarships, bursaries and awards for students pursuing post-secondary studies.
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