10 Scholarships for Adopted Children

Ways to pay for college if you’re adopted or in foster care

Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels.

Finding scholarships for anyone is difficult and needing the funds to pay for college is essential for those who are looking to get into higher education. Adoptees who are starting school and beginning the process of applying for scholarships often have a lot of questions about college scholarships for adopted youth. 

The amount of student debt in the U.S. is $1.7 trillion as of 2021 for 45 million borrowers nationwide. A way to navigate the fees associated with college is through scholarships. Everyone’s college journey is unique, and finding scholarships isn’t any different. Scholarships are focused on catering to certain people, programs, and locations. Figuring out how much assistance you need is the first start to getting your education paid for. You do this by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

The FAFSA then determines, based on your institution of choice, your personal financial situation and calculated needs, what financial aid that you’re eligible for. Most students might have additional costs or financial need that the FAFSA doesn’t cover, and that’s where scholarships come in. 

Here is a guide to ten scholarships for adoptees that you might be able to apply for, no matter your major or field of study. 

According to the most recent federal data, there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.
  1. On Your Own Scholarship

To apply to the On Your Own Scholarship, you must be a current or former foster youth and enrolled at San José State University’s Guardian Scholars Program or demonstrate academic promise and financial need. Applicants must have been in foster care at least one day since their 13th birthday. Each year the scholarship pays $4,000 toward college costs over the course of four years to a total of $12,000. 

Eligibility requirements include a minimum cumulative high school or college gpa of 2.5, unmet financial need or educational loans, completed the FAFSA by the priority deadline, and plans to enroll at the university full time or part time. For more information or to apply, visit the Silicon Valley Community Foundation website.

  1. Foster Care to Success Scholarship

Applicants can submit to the Foster Care to Success Scholarship anytime between January 1 to March 31 each year to be eligible for a scholarship of $2,500 to $5,000, based on a combination of their financial need and merit. To be eligible, applicants must have been in public or private foster care for the 12 consecutive months leading up to and including their 18th birthday, or have been adopted or placed into legal guardianship after their 16th birthday, or have been orphaned for at least one year at the time of their 18th birthday and not adopted. 

The scholarship is renewable for up to five years if students remain within the program eligibility requirements. To view more requirements and information, visit Foster Care to Success’ website

  1. Massachusetts Foster Child Grant Program

The Foster Child Grant Program was funded by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2001. It provides grants of up to $6,000 annually for foster children to help pay for an education beyond high school at any college or university throughout the continental United States. 

To be eligible for a Foster Child Grant a student must meet these requirements: Be a permanent legal resident of Massachusetts, a U.S. Citizen or non-citizen eligible under Title IV regulations, have applied for financial aid using the standard Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).Be enrolled full time at an eligible higher education institution. For more requirements and information, visit the scholarship website

  1. Richard and Janice Van Deelen Scholarship

This scholarship is available for students who are looking to attend Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. To be eligible, applicants must be entering junior or senior year, have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher, have been adopted, have a special interest in adoption, or are interested in working with children, and have substantial financial need. The scholarship is automatically renewable with a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher and if the recipient continues to demonstrate an interest in adoption and/or working with children. To learn more about this scholarship, visit Calvin University’s website.

Only 10% of foster children enroll in a degree or vocational certificate program. Of those 10%, just 26% will graduate. Photo by Ekrulila from Pexels.
  1. Adoption STAR Academic Scholarship Program

To apply for the Adoption STAR Academic Scholarship Program, you need to be a college-bound individual who was adopted. The criteria to apply to the scholarship include for the applicants who have been adopted or in foster care or to have been known to have overcome adversity. The applicant also should have good character and high academic achievement despite the obstacles they have faced. The student also must have plans to pursue higher education to a 4-year University or College as well as demonstrate academic progress during their four years of high school. To learn more about the scholarship visit Adoption STAR’s website

  1. EEqual Scholarship Awards Program

This scholarship program is designed for students who have experienced or are currently struggling with homelessness, housing instability, or extreme poverty. Adopted or foster children who fit this criteria are eligible to apply to this scholarship which awards up to $8,000 toward tuition costs. 

Overall the scholarship is meant to reward students no matter their economic background and give them opportunities to have higher education. Students who are selected for this scholarship also will be paired with a mentor to help guide them throughout their years in higher education as part of their special program. To learn more about the scholarship and their eligibility requirements visit EEqual’s website

  1. Foster Hope Academic Award

The Foster Hope scholarship award is designed to help empower at-risk youth and encourage those who have experienced adverse childhood events to find future success, as per their website. Overall this program aims to give students equal opportunities to make their future a success despite personal challenges. This is a merit based award, whose criteria is to possess a high school diploma and have a 2.0 GPA or higher, have been enrolled in an accredited WI school, and overcome an adverse childhood experience. For more information on this scholarship visit Foster Hope Inc.’s website

  1. New Hampshire Higher Education Scholarships for Orphans of Veterans

If you're a New Hampshire resident or are attending a public college in New Hampshire,  you should be eligible for the Higher Education Scholarships for Orphans of Veterans through the university system of New Hampshire and Community College system of New Hampshire. The scholarship provides $2,500 to children of New Hampshire service members who died on active duty or of service-connected disabilities. The scholarship is renewable and can be used for room board books and supplies at any public college in New Hampshire. To learn more about the scholarship visit their website here

  1. SFC Foster Children Scholarship

The Snuggles for Children nonprofit organization offers an annual scholarship for students to improve the livelihoods of foster children. Other services that the nonprofit offers are care packages and hosting various events to raise money for their scholarship fund. The scholarship provides a prize of $2,000 toward the students tuition. To be eligible, you need to write an essay, must be a current or former foster child, and plan to use money for secondary educational purposes. To learn more about the scholarship and to view their form, visit Snuggles for Children’s website

  1. Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program

The PHEAA in Pennsylvania has a program to administer scholarships to children in foster care or youth that were adopted from foster care at the age of 16. The amount of scholarship money varies based on the application as well as how many awards are given. To be eligible to apply, students must be a Pennsylvania resident, be younger than 26 years old, file a 2021-22 FAFSA, be enrolled as an undergraduate at least half time in a college or career school, demonstrate significant financial need and maintain satisfactory academic progress. To read more of the requirements and learn how to submit the application, visit their website here

Just 50% of foster youth graduate high school. Half of foster youth who have aged out of the system end up homeless or in prison. Photo by Abby Chung from Pexels

Looking for More Resources? Check These Out: 

The scholarship search feels like it can never end. If you’re running out of options, the best bet you have of getting a scholarship is to go local. Think of your marching band, local rotary club, non-profit organizations, and so on. If you’re still unable to find any scholarships, go to your highschool’s guidance office for tips, too.

We recommend that you look for scholarships via the State Department of Education, our Go Financial Aid Facebook and Twitter pages, and free scholarship search engines like Niche, fastweb, College Board, Scholly, and CollegeScholarships.org. If you’re still looking to make a college decision, check out college selection search engines such as US News and Cappex

Also, check out Grantford’s Recycled Essay Scholarship, our guides specifically aimed toward Black women pursuing higher education, as well as our article for graduate student scholarships. Grantford keeps students up to date with other financial aid, scholarship, and student loan advice via our blog

Liz Anastasiadis
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