Florida's Children First

Topic:  Higher Education

Our Aim:  To increase access to higher education for young adults who had involvement in Florida’s Child Welfare System.

Outcome Achieved: Improved Policies – Florida now has the most comprehensive offer of free tuition to students who were formally involved in the child welfare system.

The Previous Situation: Prior to our involvement in the issue, Florida offered free post-secondary tuition to foster youth who had a permanency goal of long-term foster care, were placed with relatives or were adopted from state care.  But not all youth in state care were eligible.  Moreover, access to the tuition exemption was limited to 4 years after high school graduation.  The Board of Governors of the State University System later adopted a rule that limited the exemption to 120 hours toward an undergraduate degree.

Advocacy Strategies:

Legislative Education by current and former foster youth, adult supporters and professional lobbyists.

Bills Filed

Issuance of a White Paper detailing barriers to broader use of the exemption.

Administrative Litigation challenging the rule limiting usage of the exemption

Our Advocacy Milestones:

2006  Legislature expanded exemption to include to children placed into guardianships

2010  Legislature expanded exemption to age 28 – removing the limitation of 4 years after high school graduation

2014  Legislature expanded exemption to children placed with non relatives.

2015  The Board of Governors of the State University System acknowledges that the exemption is not limited to 120 hours toward undergraduate credits.  Therefore graduate and professional school are covered as well as all the credits needed to complete an undergraduate degree.

Situation Today:

All students who were in out of home care at age 18, were adopted, or whose cases were closed to permanent guardianship after age 16 are eligible for free tuition and fees.

Students may use the exemption for tuition to take undergraduate, graduate and professional courses until age 28.


Florida's Children First

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