The Senate passed House Bill 123 unanimously, sending the bill to Govenror Carney. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Krista Griffith and Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, would waive tuition and fees – including room and board – at the state’s public institutions of higher learning for young people who age out of Delaware’s foster care system.
The legislation would require the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Tech Community College to waive all tuition and fees, including room and board, for any young person who ages out of the foster care system at age 18 or later, or who has spent at least one year in foster care as a teenager. Youth enrolled as full-time students would also have access to year-round campus housing, eliminating a significant barrier. Youth would be required to apply for all available financial aid before having the remaining tuition and fees waived and would remain eligible for the waiver until age 26.
Currently, youth in foster care in Delaware have access to the federal Chafee Educational and Training Voucher program and a small state-funded scholarship program, which help these students defray some of the costs of higher education. But, Delaware is one of only 15 states that offer no additional assistance to foster youth pursuing postsecondary education.
About 15-20 incoming freshmen who spent at least one year in foster care as a teenager would likely be eligible for tuition waivers at the University of Delaware, Delaware State University or Delaware Tech Community College under the bill.
|HOUSE BILL 123 SPONSORS||YES VOTES||NO VOTES|
|Griffith, Longhurst, Lambert, Lynn, Mitchell, Morrison, Wilson-Anton||House Passed 39-2. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||Briggs King Collins|
|Lockman, Poore, Brown, Hansen, S.McBride, Pinkney, Sokola||Senate Passed 21-0. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson||None|
|CURRENT STATUS —||Sent to Governor.|
“We know that young people who have been through the foster care system as teens and have aged out experience worse outcomes overall than their peers in terms of educational attainment, full-time employment, stable housing and financial independence,” said Rep. Griffith. “We owe these vulnerable young adults a path to prosperity and a better life. This legislation would require the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Tech Community College to waive all tuition and fees, including room and board, giving students who were in the foster care system an opportunity to create for themselves a stable and successful future.”
“Children accepted into college after spending a significant time in Delaware’s foster care system are already defying the odds,” said Sen. Lockman. “We should be rewarding that hard work by removing the barriers that are preventing some of our most vulnerable young people from achieving their goals and realizing their potential. That includes extending a clear path to a debt-free education.”