Former Foster Youth

Youth who have spent time in the foster care system, commonly known as former foster youth, may face significant barriers achieving academic and personal success. Approximately four percent of youth who aged out of foster care had earned a 4-year college degree by age 26, compared to 36 percent of youth in the general population.1 In the state of Texas, only 1.5 percent of former foster youth earn a bachelor’s degree or higher degree.2

Former foster youth may have experienced one or more traumatic events resulting from power-based violence during their childhood. Physical, emotional, mental, and social trauma can have a negative impact on developmental growth. Negative effects of exposure to power-based violence include symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Such trauma may negatively affect academic progress and can limit the ability of individuals to benefit from postsecondary enrollment and completion.

The Office for Victim Advocacy & Violence Prevention assists UTRGV former foster youth students who are transitioning to the University. The purpose of our office is to promote the academic success for our former foster youth students by providing FREE and CONFIDENTIAL support and resources based on the student’s needs. In addition, former foster youth students may access the following resources:

  • Fostering Success is part of the UTRGV Office of Student Life and Dean of Students. Fostering Success is the site for Former Foster Care Children (FFCC). Learn more about existing available support, advice, coaching, and other information. 
  • Things People Never Told Me is a compilation of experiences and suggestions from youth who have transitioned out of foster care which may be helpful in equipping other youth leaving foster care, and the professionals working with them, with the necessary tools to become independent and successful adults.
  • The Federal Student Aid: FAFSA Dependency Status Flowchart helps financial aid professionals, students, and those helping students complete the FAFSA determine whether they are considered an independent or dependent applicant. The website also answers questions about what students should report on the FAFSA.
  • The Former Foster Care Children Medicaid Program covers visits to the doctors, dentists, and hospitals. The program also covers medicines ordered by doctors and dentists. Coverage is through Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and helps families buy food for good health. The program also helps people who are dealing with domestic violence, a disaster, or filing taxes.
  • Texas Youth Connection is a division of the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services to connect current and former foster youth to resources to continue their education.


1 Children’s Rights Aging Out Factsheet

2 Wyatt, Faulkner, Bustillos, & Madden (2018) Foster Care Alumni and Higher education: A Descriptive Study of Post-secondary Achievements of Foster Youth in Texas