GCU gives Arizona foster care students opportunity to go to college debt free
PHOENIX — Children aging out of the Arizona foster care system now have the opportunity to get a college degree without going into debt.
Grand Canyon University and the State of Arizona on Thursday announced the Fostering Futures Scholarship. It will cover 100% of the costs for tuition, fees, and year-round room and board for qualified students.
“When they graduate, they will graduate with absolutely zero loans and they will graduate in very important areas like nursing, education, engineering, computer science, and information technology,” GCU President Brian Mueller said.
In 2019, less than half of foster care kids pursued higher education.
“This new scholarship will ensure more of these kids have access to a high-quality, affordable education, but it’s more than that,” Gov. Doug Ducey said, adding the scholarship will give foster kids access to the fundamental needs that many people don’t have to think about twice.
Michael Faust, director of the Arizona Department of Child Safety, stressed how important it is for room and board to also be covered so foster care students have a consistent place to live.
“Young people need a safe place to lay their head,” Faust said. “Without sustainable housing, without a secure place to live, they can’t worry about an education.”
Jacqueline Carter, a GCU alum who was once in the foster care system, can attest to how impactful it was to have housing year-round.
“This school became my home during school breaks, especially when I didn’t have a place to call home,” she said. “I celebrated Christmases here and Thanksgivings here.”
There are also other aspects included in the program, such as students having access to counseling with admissions and student services, free tutoring, mentoring programs, student worker opportunities and life skills training.
“When we meet with a group of students who currently attend GCU they said, ‘we need help with things like a checking account and health insurance,”‘ Sarah Boeder, executive president of operations at GCU, said. “So we’ll be taking on that as well.”
The program receives money from multiple sources, including scholarships from GCU, the state and the federal level.
The first scholarships will be awarded for the 2022-23 school year soon.