Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities


Youth Services Paying for College

Cap and gown

Whether college is a few months away or years down the road, there are ways to help pay for school. Post high school education is important in today’s world.
The goal may be a:

  • 4 year degree
  • 2 year degree
  • Technical Diplomas
  • Apprenticeship
  • Professional license

We encourage youth and the caring adults in their lives to take advantage of the programs and services listed below.

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) Resources

DCF Scholarship Program

The DCF Scholarship Program provides scholarships for post high school education and training programs for youth presently or formerly in out-of-home care. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) administers the scholarship program. The Federal Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) Program funds it. The DCF Scholarship Program is an initiative under the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act.

The DCF Scholarship Program awards scholarships of up to $5,000. These scholarships are for youth who have been in out-of-home care and are entering a degree, license, or certificate program. DCF has limited funding for the scholarship program.  Each applicant must complete the following application.

DCF Scholarship Application for Youth in Out-of-Home Care form (DCF-F-CFS2197)

Important Information

  • Applicants should submit their applications early.
  • It is important for you to submit a complete application.
  • The scholarships are awarded in the order that completed applications are received.

Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program

The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program helps youth make the transition to self-sufficiency and receive the education, training, and services necessary to obtain employment. ETV funds must be utilized to help establish, expand, or strengthen post high school educational assistance for youths eligible for Independent Living Services.

Campus Contacts for Foster Youth

Campus contacts help former foster youth navigate admission, financial aid, and student and academic services prior to and once on campus. The campus contacts are listed below for each of the technical colleges, University of Wisconsin System schools, and private colleges and universities (Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities).

Wisconsin Technical College campus contacts

UW System campus contacts

Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities campus contacts

Opening Doors to College

The Foster Youth to College Advisory Group created the Opening Doors to College for Foster Youth information. Both resources provide support for foster youth getting to and succeeding in college.

The handout provides helpful information and links for youth and supporting adults.

The webcast offers :

  • Former foster youth talking about finishing high school and going to college
  • Other career options
  • Resources from the Department of Public Instruction
  • How to get into college
  • Ways to pay for college

Department of Public Instruction Resources

Planning for a career begins in middle school and throughout high school. Explore these resources from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to get started.

Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Program (WEOP) prepares youth and young adults to pursue higher educational opportunities by providing

  • college and career readiness programs
  • resources - includes scholarship information
  • support

Programs include:

The Precollege Scholarship Program gives middle and high school students a chance to view life on a college campus.

Academic and Career Planning (ACP) students make and develop their own ideas for success after high school. This is made through:

  • self-exploration
  • career exploration
  • the development of career management and planning skills

Upward Bound is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The support is for low-income and/or students who are the first in their family to graduate high school. The program helps high school students to prepare for college.

Talent Incentive Program Grants (TIP) aids low-income and disadvantaged Wisconsin students.  The program provides extra college funding to help:

  • reduce the student’s amount of loan
  • work-study
  • unmet need

Contact the WOEP regional office supporting your county for more information or assistance.

College Admission Testing Resources

College Board helps students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success – including the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program.

Federal Student Aid provides information on standardized tests required for college and graduate programs.

Number 2 offers free online test preparation courses.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Resources

KnowHow2GO Wisconsin offers information to students from middle school to seniors. It provides local resources. There is also a section for mentors.

CollegeView is a website for students and parents searching for college-related information. The website contains a tool called SuperMatch. It searches for and finds colleges matching a student’s interests and needs.

Fastweb is the leading online resource for finding scholarships.There is a listing of scholarships for students who are or were in foster care.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation.

Foster Care to Success (FC2S) is the oldest and largest national nonprofit organization working solely with college bound foster youth. Helping them transition from care to adulthood through education by giving them:

  • Information
  • Advice
  • Support
  • Funding

FinAid: The Smart Student Guide to Financial Aid is a complete source of student financial aid information. It also provides advice and helpful tools. Access to FinAid is free for all users.

GoCollege offers helpful information for current and soon to be college students. A good source for information about the admissions and financial aid process.

MyMajors helps students explore a major, college, and career.

NFPA Youth Scholarship is offered by the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA).  It is designed to help foster families pay for education beyond high school.