Fostering Independence Through Education Act


On June 28th, Pennsylvania passed a law, which created the Fostering Independence Through
Education Waiver

The Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program, created by Act 16 of 2019, seeks to remove barriers in accessing a postsecondary education for youth who are or have been in foster care. This will allow eligible foster youth to complete their studies, graduate with less debt, and have the opportunity to build a network of support. The program is being administered collaboratively by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) in conjunction with the PA departments of Education, Human Services, and Labor & Industry.

Key Benefits & Facts:

  • Creates a tuition and fee waiver for youth in foster care who are seeking an undergraduate degree at colleges and universities in Pennsylvania to reduce financial barriers.
  • Creates points-of-contact at institutions to help eligible students identify and apply for
    financial aid, scholarships, gather verification documents, and access campus and community
    resources and support services.
  • The program will begin in the Fall semester of 2020.
  • The waiver cannot be used for dorm or meal plan charges.
  • The waiver can be used for up to five years or until the age of 26.

Eligibility & Criteria: 

  • Be a Pennsylvania resident Be under age 26
  • Received a high school diploma or equivalent approved credential
  • Be eligible for services under Pennsylvania’s John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood
  • Be identified as a youth in foster care or a youth discharged from foster care at age 16 or older
  • Exited foster care on or after age 16 to adoption or permanent legal custodianship
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate, at least half time in a postsecondary institution that is approved by the U.S. Department of Education for Title IV student assistance programs
  • Demonstrate financial need for the PA Chafee Education and Training Grant (Chafee ETG), as determined by the postsecondary institution
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP), as determined by the postsecondary institution
  • Not be in default on a federal student loan

How to Apply:

  • File a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - visit to apply
  • Submit a Chagee ETG Application - visit for additional info
  • Enroll in a postsecondary institution
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education is currently developing guidelines on how students can apply for the tuition waiver. More information is expected to be available by the end of January 2020.


  • Emi Alvarez
  • Director of Financial Aid
  • Office of Financial Aid
  • (717) 871-5100

additional info: