College Planning

This section is designed to provide basic information for assisting youth planning to attend college after high school. It is important to remember that each plan is unique and that colleges vary in their requirements and application process, so choosing a school early on and connecting with that specific school is most important. Also, identify someone who will be an education advocate and who will encourage and assist the student with the process.

Much of the information provided is available through, and various other websites included at the end of this section for the reader's reference.

The following sections will cover in more detail the main steps to college planning below:

STEP 1: Plan and prepare - learn good study habits.

Ensure that the right courses are being taken in high school. The "a-g" requirements are specific to students who want to apply directly to a 4-year university. That means college planning may start as early as the 8th grade. Most importantly however, is the value of a strong grade point average and a full curriculum that includes all five key subject areas: math, English, science, social studies and language.    See STEP 1

STEP 2: Explore potential schools of interest - there are over 200 colleges in California alone.

The student should look for colleges with strong academic programs that match his or her areas of interests and major if one has been chosen. A student may want to think about personal interests, extra curricular activities, housing and the surrounding city. Ask a high school counselor for ideas, take tours of schools, and read college catalogs. There are many helpful websites that review the college campuses in California and throughout the country, some of which are written by former students.   See STEP 2

STEP 3: Apply.

Each school is different so a student may want to make sure he or she understands the application process at each potential school. Most important, every student must respect all deadlines including those for any support documents and the applications for campus support programs like Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).  See STEP 3

STEP 4: Paying for college - there are many ways to help pay for college.

Most former foster youth automatically qualify as independent students and can receive the maximum in free money for college. Foster youth may also qualify for additional grants including the Chafee educational training voucher and the Cal Grant. The student should work with an educational advocate and/or the financial aid office of the school for assistance with application for financial aid and any other college scholarships the student is eligible for.  See STEP 4

STEP 5: College success.

There are many programs, staff and services on college campuses that provide assistance in order for their students to be successful with their education and in life. Some schools even offer specific programs designed for former foster youth which help with financial aid, life coaching, mentoring, housing, and offer personalized attention.  See STEP 5

Foster Youth Specific Services