Mayor Adams launches program to help foster care youth pay for college of their choice

Mayor Eric Adams announcing new program to help foster care youth pay for college. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

New York City will subsidize college costs not covered by financial aid for foster care-raised youth, plus housing and other expenses, Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday.

Under the new program dubbed “College Choice,” Adams said the city’s Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) will pay remaining tuition costs not covered by financial assistance for foster-care youth attending college up to $15,000-a-year. The initiative also offers students a $60-daily stipend to supplement the cost of expenses like food and transportation as well as to subsidizing room and board that isn’t covered by financial aid.

The city is pouring $10 million into the program, a revamped version of a previous effort called “The Dorm Project.” While announcing College Choice at City College of New York Tuesday, Adams touted that the city will continue to provide students with the daily stipend for up to six months after they graduate college.

“The dollars that we allocated to pay tuition, to give money in their pockets to pay for the necessary necessities they need while going into college and then not just having a cliff, once they’ve reached the end of the college life, we have a bridge to allow them to transition into making some of the important decisions that are needed,” Adams said. “This is how we are approaching everything that we do under this administration, we cannot just drop you off and say ‘you are no longer our responsibility.’ You are our responsibility until you are at the place where you are comfortable enough to not only help yourself, but help those who also are in need.”

Mayor Eric Adams announcing new program to help foster care youth pay for college. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. Photo courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Accompanying Adams were ACS Commissioner Jess Dannhauser, CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, City College of New York President Vincent Boudreau and U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan).

Where the The Dorm Project – also known as the Fostering College Success Initiative – just applied to CUNY schools, Dannhauser said, College Choice can be used for any college a student chooses to attend.

“This program builds upon the fostering College Success Initiative, our former program that provide a year-round housing, tuition assistance, smaller stipends and academic support,” Dannhauser said. “Simply put, today’s announcement takes that program one big step further. Beginning this year for the 2020 to 2023 school year, students in foster care now have the choice to get the support no matter what college they choose to attend, hence the name College Choice.”

The launch of the new program comes on the heels of Adams’ administration expanding the Fair Futures program, which provides coaches to foster care youth, to include young people up to age 26 – the program previously covered those between the ages of 11 and 21. It also follows a new vocational training and apprenticeship program for high school and college aged youth in foster care that Adams and ASC rolled out this past spring.

While the new program is an expansion of The Dorm Project, Dannhauser said, it actually won’t cost the city any additional money.

“One of the reasons for that is the coaches and the ACS staff are really helping young people maximize what they’re eligible for,” he said. “So the city dollar only starts on the tuition when young people have maximized and there’s so much available for youth in foster care. The $60-a-day is city money. We will continue that $60 for the six months, but the coaches will be constantly working with young people around their career plans.”