What's New

What's New

VFA Policy Intern Blogs on Personal Impact

The Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act Changed my Life

Angelica Cox, Policy Intern 

Angelica Cox Policy InternThroughout my childhood, school was always my escape because I knew that I could improve my life chances through academic success. However, even though I graduate from high school with high honors and in the top ten of my class, I always felt like I was fighting an uphill battle. I believed in myself and I knew what I was capable of, but societal stereotypes and instability in my life created barriers for my future. Since I was adopted at the age of fourteen my peers had a common misperception about my life at home; behind closed doors I was dealing with deep emotional abuse from my adopted family.  After I graduated from high school, I moved out because I knew that I couldn’t succeed in a negative environment –  I chose to be homeless. In my eyes not having a home and walking away from the only family I had left was my only chance at success. It was one of the most terrifying and bold moves I have ever made to this date.

I was accepted to Michigan State University a few months prior to this, but in the midst of fighting to survive my future seemed bleak. Unlike my peers in traditional families, I did not have an adequate safety net or a social network to rely on to facilitate a smooth transition from my childhood into adulthood. I had always dreamed of obtaining an undergraduate degree, but I started to lose hope because of the lack of emotional, financial, and social support I had in my life at the time.

Thankfully I never gave up, because a few weeks prior to transitioning to college, I received a letter stating that I qualified for the Spartan Advantage. This meant that a majority of my higher education was going to be paid for because although I was adopted, I still qualified as an independent. This was truly a blessing in disguise made possible by The Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act as an amendment to the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (Public Law 110-84). This made it possible for teens in foster care like myself to be adopted without losing access to college financial aid. Under this law, youth who were adopted after the age of 13 qualify as independent, meaning that their parents’ incomes are not a determination in the calculation of their financial aid. This law created increased rates of permanency for foster youth who previously had to decide between getting adopted and being able to afford a higher education – a decision that no child should ever have to make.  

In the United States, less than ten percent of foster youth attend college, and only 26% of those that go to college graduate. Thanks to the support of this legislation, I will be gradating early this upcoming December. As I prepare for my graduate studies, I cannot help but reflect on how this legislation gave me a critical foundation to continue my advocacy work to be a voice for children in the foster care system. For all of those who are fight everyday for child welfare reform, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.