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More Foster Kids Could Get Free College

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013   

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Too many foster kids are being left out of Maryland's tuition waiver program, according to child welfare advocacy groups in the state. The General Assembly is considering legislation this session that would expand the program to give more foster kids access to college or vocational schools.

According to Melissa Rock, child-welfare director at Advocates for Children and Youth, young people in foster care often don't go to college because of the high cost, and the current waiver program doesn't provide enough help.

"Think how much more money it will save the state in the future by these young people completing their education and being able to give back to society," she urged.

Last year 51 foster kids received tuition waivers. Rock hopes many more will benefit from the proposed changes.

Right now, the waiver program only covers tuition for associate's and bachelor's degrees. The proposed legislation would expand it to cover public vocational programs. Rock noted that those include nursing, masonry and carpentry certifications, which she said are "trade programs that might be better suited for foster youth than a purely academic program."

The legislation would also expand the tuition waiver to include kids who have been placed under guardianship, rather than foster care.

A link to the legislation is at mgaleg.maryland.gov.





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