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Financial Aid Toolkit for Students

Trying to figure out how to pay for college or technical school can seem impossible. But it's not! There are a lot of resources available to students with experience in foster care. We have created this toolkit so that you can see everything at once.


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

  • If you were in foster care or ward of the court for any length of time since turning 13, you can claim yourself as "independent" on the FAFSA. Claiming an "independent" status may qualify you to receive resources and support such like access to campus coaches, emergency financial assistance, mentoring, tuition assistance, and more!
  • Your foster care worker should provide you the DHHS-945 form, which will verify independent status. Any school where you apply for financial aid will need a copy for their files. Keep a copy for yourself.
  • Before you begin to explore the financial aid resources below, click here to view a resource that will help you understand your financial aid award letter.
  • It is OK to feel overwhelmed, and you can do this! There are financial aid champions at colleges and technical schools all over Michigan that can help answer your questions. Click here to find them!
  • Not sure if you qualify for aid through FAFSA? You probably do! Check out this webpage on qualifying criteria!


2. See if you qualify 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 you're eligible for the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP).

  • TIP covers tuition and mandatory fees at participating institutions (phase 1 colleges). Check out this flyer for a listing of eligible institutions.
  • If you are eligible, a notification was sent to you from the Michigan Department of Treasury – MI Student Aid.  If you did not receive a notification and believe you may be eligible,  contact MI Student Aid
  • You can complete your application for TIP using the MiSSG Student Portal or over the phone by calling MI Student Aid.  You must complete the application by August 31 of your high school graduation year.
  • Once you complete your TIP application, your college choice identified in the MiSSG Student Portal will be notified of your eligibility.  Letters including the College Payment Authorization letter and Phase II Letter of Credit are no longer required.
  • You must start using your TIP funds at least four years after high school graduation. If you do not initiate the funds by that time period, you will lose your eligibility. You have up to 6 years after you graduate high school to use your TIP funds.

4. Apply for the Fostering Futures Scholarship

  • Eligible students can recieve funding for tuition, fees, room/board, and supplies/equipment required for enrollment. In the past few years, award amounts have been approximately $3000-$5000 per year. 
  • Click here to access the application.


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 MI Student Aid 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. Explore Campus Support Programs in Michigan.

9. Use a Cost of Living Calculator.

  • Independent living can be costly! If you plan on attending college outside of your home town, be sure to calculate the cost of living in that area. You might be surprised!



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." 

Make a Donation