Power of One
There are a lot of people that will help you get into college and to help you pay for college but staying in college is a different story. College is talked about a lot in high school. You can go to a counselor or teacher and they will help you find colleges and funding. In addition, as a young person who aged out of care, you can receive more financial assistance because you can claim independent on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and there are other programs that will even assist a student in covering their cost of attendance or books.
For me personally, I was able to obtain scholarships that paid for all my post-secondary education. I had a lot of help getting into and paying for college, but unfortunately not enough assistance on how to stay.
I remember looking for scholarships and I didn’t know they existed specifically for foster youth. Then I came across the Passport to College Promise Scholarship program. This program not only provided monetary aid but also offered a supportive community on campus. This meant that there was a point person on campus who would be available as a resource and helped connect Passport program students. I thought to myself “yeah this would be good for me.” But once I looked at the requirements and saw I didn’t qualify because I was in tribal foster care, I was disappointed. I don’t remember ever being excluded from anything due to my background before this point. I had never felt all that different being a tribal youth or for not living with my parents because this was the norm where I grew up. Now, I felt awkward. I felt the bias of the world.
To intentionally or unintentionally
exclude marginalized people
from programming is a disservice.
We need to make sure
that this doesn't happen again.
To intentionally or unintentionally exclude marginalized people from programming is a disservice. We need to make sure that this doesn't happen again. As in the example of the Passport program, when people are excluded there are negative impacts. If I would have had somebody to help me find and apply for resources I needed while in college, I would have had a more successful outcome. I would have had this support had I been eligible for the Passport Program. I would have been part of a community and had an additional support system. But because I was in the tribal foster system and not the state foster system I was ineligible and excluded for this program and the support it provides. But thankfully, with the work I do with The Mockingbird Society, I can now say that Tribal, Federal and Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children youth are now eligible for the Passport Program. I may not qualify for Passport anymore due to my age, but I am very grateful for the work that we have done to allow more
youth eligibility within various foster care programs and hopefully allow more youth within foster care to succeed in college. As a community we need to call upon legislators and program managers to make sure that vulnerable populations are not being excluded from opportunities and services like they unintentionally were in the original Passport to College Promise Scholarship Program requirements.