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Support HB 1208: Tuition Exemption for Foster Care Recipients

By Ellen Robertson, Associate Director for Education & Family Life

House Appropriations Committee (Mar 22, 2011)

Today the Maryland Catholic Conference stands before you to urge your support for House Bill 1208. This bill would exempt foster care recipients from having to pay college tuition by altering the age before which a foster care recipient must be enrolled. The legislation also makes the application process more accessible to recipients of foster care.

House Bill 1208 levels the playing field and provides more time for foster care recipients to enroll in an institution of higher education. Foster care recipients have to endure an often inconsistent education and are burdened with the added stress and trauma of not having a permanent residence. The extension of the age requirement from 21 to 25 gives them much needed time to fully prepare for college or university.

The Second Vatican Council declared that "the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ."

Children who have had difficult lives through no fault of their own should be given the opportunity to attend an institution of higher education, which they might not have otherwise been able to afford. House Bill 1208 would allow for such opportunities to become realities. By exempting foster care recipients from paying college tuition, the hopes of attending a college or university become much more reachable. In addition to the tuition cost itself, applying for financial aid is a difficult and lengthy process. Foster care students face many obstacles including, but not limited to, time management habits, lack of effective studying skills, and gaps in education. These obstacles prevent them from taking a full course load that would be heightened by the added burden of having to pay for their college education.

With this in mind, the Conference urges you to ease some of the economic burdens facing Maryland foster care recipients planning to attend college with a favorable vote on House Bill 1208. Thank you for your consideration.