Financial Aid & Scholarship Office

Foster Youth

Despite the additional financial challenges that foster youth face, there are resources for financial aid. This page provides assistance to foster youth in answering the FAFSA appropriately to their situation, as well as highlights federal, state, university, and private resources that may make college accessible.

Independent Living Program

Are you a foster youth? The California Department of Social Services, Independent Living Program (ILP) assists foster care youths in developing the skills necessary to make the transition from foster care to independent living. Contact your ILP county coordinator, first, about resources for which you may be eligible.

How to Apply for Financial Aid if You Are a Foster Youth

Applying for financial aid is free. Apply by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)(opens in new window). You must complete a new or renewal FAFSA for each academic year for which you will be enrolled. When completing the FAFSA, students must include Chico State in the list of schools to which you want your FAFSA information sent. Chico State’s Federal School Code is 001146.

FAFSA Definition of Foster Youth

FAFSA Question: At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?

The term "ward" means "dependent" of the court. Being a dependent child of the county (or state) is the same as being a ward of the court.
You can still be a ward of the court if you have a legal guardian or foster parents, but check with the court for your current status. You should answer yes if at any time since you turned age 13 you were in foster care or a dependent or ward of the court, even if that is no longer your situation.
Note: If you are eligible to answer yes to this FAFSA Question, you are considered to be an independent student. Neither legal guardians nor foster parents are considered parents when completing the FAFSA.
Grandparents may be court-appointed, legal guardians, but they are not considered parents when completing the FAFSA.
Summary of FAFSA Questions and Answers for Foster Youth
FAFSA Step 3
"Do you have children who receive more than half their support from you?"
You should answer "YES" to this question as long as you provide more than half of a child's support.
FAFSA Step 5
Number in household
If you live with foster parents and their children, they are not "family members" for the FAFSA. If you are independent as a result of being a ward of the court, and have no children of your own, you are a family of one (yourself).
FAFSA Step 7
If you are a ward of the court, and thus considered independent, parental signatures are not required.

Foster Youth and Types of Aid

Your eligibility for aid depends on your expected family contribution (EFC), your year in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance. See the table above for explanations about what "family" means for foster youth and wards of the court. EFC is a generic term. Do not let it deter you from applying for aid because of the "family" terminology.

Once you have filled out a FAFSA, our office will use your EFC and other information to determine the amount of financial aid for which you are eligible. Your financial aid package will be comprised of various types of aid. The initial award offer is based on full-time enrollment, which is 12 units per semester for undergraduates. Awards may be adjusted for changes in enrollment, residency status, or overawards due to receipt of aid from other sources. Be sure to read the full explanation of financial aid policies and procedures when you receive email notification of your award.


"Gift" aid that is based on need. Grants do not have to be repaid. For more information on grants please visit the Grants page.

Federal Grants

  1. Federal Pell Grant
  2. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

State Grants

    1. Cal Grants
    2. Chafee Grant – state grant specifically for foster youth

Program-Specific Grants

  1. Educational Opportunity Program Grant (EOPG)
  2. Student Support Services (SSSG)*
  3. Casey Family Scholars Grant – sponsored by Orphan Foundation of America


"Gift" aid that is based on special considerations or qualifications. Scholarships do not have to be repaid. For more information on scholarships, please visit the scholarships page.

Wildcat Scholarships

California State University, Chico provides scholarship awards to eligible students, and students are encouraged to apply. See Wildcat Scholarships for more information.

Non-University Scholarships

There are organizations dedicated to providing opportunities and resources for foster youth to pursue a college education. Students also may research private and community scholarships. See Private Scholarships for additional information.

Other Types of Financial Aid

See federal Work-Study and Loans.

Resources and Support Links

The State of California has a Foster Youth Ombudsman Program to assist foster youth and former foster youth and to advocate for their rights. Consult this Foster Youth Help for what you are entitled to receive and how to get help accessing it.

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