Budget Sign-On Letter for Cal Grant Expansion for Foster Youth
RE: BUDGET REQUEST FOR EXPANSION OF CAL GRANT FOR FOSTER YOUTH

We, the undersigned, are writing in support of a budget augmentation in the State of California's 2018/2019 budget of $4,830,874 to expand access to the Cal Grant for foster youth, in turn increasing the rate of college success among this high need population.

While California’s foster care system has made important strides in the last five years for older youth, one area where it continues to struggle is post-secondary achievement. By age 26, just 4 percent of former foster youth have achieved a college degree as compared to 36 percent of the same-age population of young adults.

Evidence shows that receiving financial aid is a strong predictor of degree attainment - positively impacting grade point average, transfer rates and undergraduate degree attainment, yet foster youth are severely underrepresented among Cal Grant recipients. In fact, only 9% of foster youth attending California community colleges succeed in obtaining Cal Grant funding. When provided with financial aid however, California foster youth were found to be 40% more likely to obtain 15+ credits or more in one year. Providing a budget augmentation would recognize the unique barriers that foster youth face and allow the state to:

1) Remove the requirement that foster youth apply for an entitlement Cal Grant within one year of high school graduation, instead authorizing foster youth to receive an entitlement grant up to age 26.
2) Extend the length of time a foster youth can receive the Cal Grant from 4 years to 8 years
3) Change the deadline for the Cal Grant entitlement application from March 2nd to September 2nd for foster youth applying to attend community college.

An inclusion of funding in the 2018/2019 budget to implement these changes will provide foster youth with the opportunity to earn a college degree and move past the poverty and maltreatment that has characterized their young lives.

Thank you very much for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,
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