While 70% of young people who spent time in foster care plan on going to college, the experience of foster care can make it exceedingly difficult for students to be successful on campus. Because of this, only about 3% of students from foster care complete a bachelor’s degree by the time they turn 26 compared to 24% of the general population (Courtney et al, 2011). 

Some of the most common barriers these students face are: 

  • Homelessness: 25–36% of foster care youth are homeless after aging out, compared to 2.6% of the 18–24 aged population in the U.S.
  • Lack of financial support: 
    • The mean income for alumni of foster care is $13,989 compared to a mean income of $32,312 for the general population. (Courtney et al, 2011)
    • 48% of alumni of foster care are employed, compared to 80% of the general population. (Courtney et al, 2011)
57% of alumni of foster care indicated that they lacked individuals to loan them money in the event of an emergency. (Courtney et al, 2011)

    • Fewer than half of alumni of care have bank accounts, making them vulnerable to predatory lending practices and paycheck cashing shops. (Courtney et al, 2011)
  • Physical and mental health concerns (like trauma): the rates of post-traumatic stress syndrome among alumni of foster care were higher than among war veterans (Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative, 2007)
  • Inadequate academic preparation due to constantly changing schools and moving between placements
  • Little social support and encouragement to pursue post-secondary education
  • Lacking basic life skills and resources (like documentation)

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