Helpful Scholarships for Foster Youth

By Brenda Decker

Students benefiting from scholarship programs

There are 13,537 children in foster care in Arizona (as of November 2021), with 25 children entering the foster care system every single day. Additionally, in just five short months (July 2021 – Nov. 2021), 251 young men and women aged out of the Arizona foster care system. For many of these young adults, the focus is on immediate needs and survival, such as housing and food, instead of building a future and setting themselves up for success.1

To combat this major life hurdle and help young adults achieve their academic goals, Grand Canyon University (GCU) has partnered with the State of Arizona’s Department of Child Safety to create a college program. This scholarship pathway for foster youth covers 100% of the costs for tuition, fees, room and board and meal plans for qualified Arizona students experiencing foster care.

“We strive to ensure that private, Christian education is within reach for all — and students who have aged out of the state’s foster care system should be no exception.”

 – Brian Mueller, Grand Canyon University President

When young adults age out of the foster care system, attending college may feel like an unachievable dream due to limited resources, instability and a lack of support. These are just a few of the challenges foster children face when trying to pursue secondary education. Grand Canyon University’s Fostering Futures Scholarship Program addresses the uphill climb that foster care youth face when aging out of the foster care system. GCU is helping students establish a fresh start to their future, allowing foster youth the ability to make their dreams a reality.

“What happens is, they step into a middle-class career and bring their families along with them. Those who have faced difficult times in their lives — those are the ones we should be focusing on. They can forever change the trajectory of their family.” 

– Brian Mueller, Grand Canyon University President

GCU’s Scholarship Provides Foster Youth the Keys to Success

GCU’s Fostering Futures scholarship offers young men and women in the foster care system the means to thrive as they enter adulthood. The Fostering Futures scholarship includes the following:

  • Full tuition and fees for fall and spring semesters
  • $16,500 per academic year (renewed for up to eight semesters and takes the place of any other GCU scholarships or institutional aid)
  • Year-round room and board
  • Specialized admissions and student services counselors
  • Optional programming that incorporates mentorship, student worker opportunities and life skills
  • Tutoring Incoming students (who meet the requirements) may be awarded GCU’s scholarship for foster youth.

Eligibility Requirements for the Scholarship Programs

Since this scholarship has specific requirements, students should complete the application and include all required documentation to qualify. To qualify, students must meet the eligibility requirements below:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be an Arizona resident
  • Must be in state care at age 17 and enrolled in the Volunteer Foster Care Program Agreement at 18 years of age
  • Must have an open case with the Arizona Department of Child Safety (or equivalent)
  • Display a dedication to community service, entrepreneurship and academic excellence
  • Complete the FAFSA and Education Tuition Voucher documents
  • Live on campus at GCU
  • Adhere to any additional rules and guidelines specified by the Arizona Department of Child Safety
  • Provide a Student Information Release Form (SIRF) to the State of Arizona’s Department of Child Safety

Building Fostering Futures Scholarship, Today

When young people age out of the foster care system, they often enter the adult world immediately confronting serious challenges. These problems include relying on state services, homelessness and potential incarceration.3 They face challenges most students could never imagine.

These challenges often interfere with their hopes and dreams of attending college. Without financial sponsors and limited resources, foster care youth are far less likely to attend college than those who were not in foster care.4

Providing foster children with a tuition scholarship program ensures that a child continues to attend a quality school while overcoming life’s challenges. GCU recognizes the key factor that determines their successful transition to adulthood is by providing a head start on their future with the quality of education they receive.

“When they [foster care students] graduate, they will graduate with absolutely no loans, and they will graduate in very important areas like nursing, education, engineering and computer science. This will allow them to make a major contribution to the state of Arizona’s economy.” 

– Brian Mueller, Grand Canyon University President

How to Apply for the Fostering Futures Scholarship at GCU

To learn more about the Fostering Futures Scholarship Program and the requirements, fill out the simple online form on this page. You will be able to learn about a variety of scholarship opportunities to help you through college. Also, you can learn more information about the degree you’re interested in. 

Supporting Foster Youth as They Enter Adulthood

GCU is committed to helping Arizona’s youth in the foster care system meet their educational goals and make college a financial reality. The Fostering Futures GCU scholarship program provides the necessary support needed for young adults navigating the difficult transition from youth to adulthood by giving them an opportunity to discover their true potential.

“If they are here for three or four years, I think the potential for them to gain a lot of confidence, to feel accepted and to feel important will lead to productive lives that could have gone the other way as a result of this scholarship.”

– Brian Mueller, Grand Canyon University President


Retrieved from:

1 Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation in April 2022.

2 Foster Success, Education Outcomes for Foster Youth Are Going in the Wrong Direction in April 2022.

3 American Legislative Exchange Council, Foster Child Scholarship Program Act in May 2022.

4 Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, How to Help Students in Foster Care Prepare for College in April 2022.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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