STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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Four college resources for homeless and foster youth in Michigan

Homeless teen with backpack
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr Creative Commons /

Bridge Magazine published a story Wednesday about barriers homeless college students in Michigan face while trying to pursue an education, and just how hard it can be for them to find help.

Especially when it comes to affording college.

As a college student myself, I can't imagine taking (and passing) classes, while having to worry about where I'm going to sleep and shower, and how I'm going to get my next meal.

According to Bridge, financial support for homeless college students varies wildly among Michigan campuses, and among low-income students raised by relatives.

Some vulnerable students are able to patch together enough aid to attend college for free, but many are left unable to complete their degree.

Here are four resources available to students who've experienced foster care, homelessness, or both:

1.  Fostering Academics, Mentoring Excellence (FAME) Program

Students designated as homeless at Michigan State University typically get free tuition and housing through FAME. The program matches students with academic mentors and hotel rooms. And as my colleague Jennifer Guerra previously reported, Michigan State University is among many Michigan colleges and universities that have some kind of housing plan in place for students who have no other place to go over holiday breaks.

2. Helping Individuals Go Higher (HIGH) Program

The program began in 2013 with a goal to help homeless, precariously housed, and financially challenged students earn a degree from Wayne State University. WSU’s first lady, Jacqueline Wilson, established the HIGH Program so that students do not have to choose between financing basic necessities and earning a degree. HIGH is dependent on donations.

3.The Fostering Futures Scholarship (FFS)

Administered by the Michigan Education Trust, the FFS offers eligible foster youth up to $3,000 per school year for tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies and equipment required for enrollment. The FFS is available to students on a first-come, first-served basis.

4. Mentorship Access Guidance in College (MAGIC) Program

MAGIC is a campus-based support program at Eastern Michigan University that aims to increase the graduation rates among students who have experienced foster care or homelessness. MAGIC was originally a program for students who grew up in foster care, but was expanded to include homeless students after receiving a flood of donations when the story of Ramone Williams, a formerly homeless EMU student, gained national attention.

There are 13,000 children in foster care in Michigan, and 19,000 in kinship care, according to Bridge Magazine.

Almost half of all foster youth drop out of high school. And of the 10% of former foster youth that attend college, only 3% will graduate.

These are kids who often bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. We need to make sure they at least have a chance at changing their circumstances.

Do you have anything to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

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