Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Legislation Helps Youth Adopted as Teens

By Mary Boo, NACAC assistant director

On September 27, President Bush signed into law the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (HR 2669), which included the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act amendment, making it possible for teens in foster care to be adopted without losing access to college financial aid. Under the law, youth who are adopted after their 13th birthday will not have to include their parents' income in the calculations for determining their need for financial aid.

As Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) explained when he first introduced the legislation in 2005, “[I]f a teenager is adopted, he or she can lose out on…college financial aid [due to] his or her adopted parents’ financial situation, but if the teen stays in the system and ‘ages-out’…he or she is probably eligible for all available loans and grants…. The benefits of family and education should go hand in hand, not stand in opposition to each other.”

NACAC has met foster youth who had to make the terrible choice between having a permanent family and pursuing a college education. As a teenager, Sheila lived in foster care with her aunt. She knew that if she remained in foster care, she would receive financial assistance that would enable her to go to college. “If my aunt adopted me,” Sheila explained, “I would lose my benefits. I mean adoption is great and everything, but you sacrifice a lot.”

We are delighted that Congress has reduced one barrier that would have forced some youth to choose between education and family, and hope that Congress goes even further to ensure that all former foster youth who are adopted as teens have full access to needed educational support.


Anonymous said...

My daughter's school says this new law will not be incorporated until 2009-2010 school year. Is that correct?

North American Council on Adoptable Children said...

We just received information that the revised definition will apply to all children who were in foster care on or after their 13th birthday, even if they were adopted before the law takes effect. Therefore, because these kids will be grandfathered in, families don't need to delay their adoptions until 2009 in order for the youth to be eligible for the benefit.