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Financial Aid Toolkit for Professionals

Students with experience in foster care who are pursuing higher education in Michigan have many financial resources available to them. As a professional, you can use the list below to help students understand what the resources are, whether or not they are eligible, and what steps they need to take. 


1. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

  • Filling out the FAFSA can seem overwhelming to students. Take time to assure them! Students who file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are 72% more likely to persist once they are in college. This number jumps to 122% for low-income filers (Journal of Student Financial Aid, 2011) 
  • If a student was in foster care or ward of the court for any length of time since turning 13, they can claim themselves as "independent" on the FAFSA. Claiming an "independent" status may qualify a student to receive financial assistance. Click here to read a list of FAQs about specific questions on the FAFSA.
  • A student's case worker should provide a DHS 945 form which will verify independent status. Any school where a student applies for financial aid will need a copy for their files. Students should keep a copy for themselves.
  • Financial aid champions at colleges and technical schools across Michigan are staff members who have agreed to act as a single point of contact for students with experience in foster care. They can help students navigate the resources listed on this page, while learning about resources at that specific campus.

2. Check to see if the student qualifies for Education and Training Voucher (ETV).​

  • The ETV program offers up to $5,000 per year for eligible students. Click here to learn more. You can link directly to the ETV website when filling out the FAFSA.

3. See if the student is eligible for the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP).

  • For students who are eligible for both TIP and the Fostering Futures Scholarships, professionals should follow this protocol for processing applications.
  • If a student is eligible, a notification was sent to them from the Michigan Department of Treasury – Student Scholarships and Grants (SSG).  If they did not receive a notification and believe they may be eligible, contact MI Student Aid.
  • Once the student receives the notification from SSG, they can complete their application for TIP using the MiSSG Student Portal or over the phone by calling SSG.  The application must be completed by August 31 of the student’s high school graduation year.
  • Once the student completes their TIP application, and graduates high school, their college choice identified in the MiSSG Student Portal will be notified of the student’s TIP eligibility.  Letters including the College Payment Authorization letter and Phase II Letter of Credit are no longer required.
  • Students must start using their TIP funds at least four years after high school graduation. If they do not initiate the funds by that time period, they will lose their eligibility. Students have up to 6 years after they graduate high school to use TIP funds

4. Apply for the Fostering Futures Scholarship

5. Use Foster Youth In Transition (FYIT) funds before college to help pay for things like college application fees, graduation expenses, and testing fees.

6. Explore MI Student Aid

The Planning and Paying for College in Michigan Guidebook provides information about pre-planning and applying for college, applying for financial aid, and contact information about Michigan colleges and universities.

7. Explore Scholarships.

  • Scholarships are gifts and don't need to be repaid. There are thousands of them, offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations. Click here get an overview from Federal Student Aid.
  • There are scholarships available specifically for students with experience in foster care in Michigan! You can search for "scholarships" at

8. Find Campus Support Programs.

  • There are over 30 campuses across the state of Michigan that offer special programs for students with experience in foster care. The Campus Support programs are unique and offer a range of support - from mentoring to tuition assistance.

Your donations help make a difference

Fostering Success Michigan is a program of Educate Tomorrow that aims to increase access and success in higher education and post-college careers for youth with experience in foster care. Learn how you can contribute to building a holistic network that insulates (i.e., strengthens protective factors and reduces risks) the education to career "pipeline." 

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