Program to Help Foster Youth Pursue Higher Education

$529 payments available to qualified applicants

Citing information showing nationwide, only about half of youth raised in foster care end up finishing high school, and less than 3% graduate from a four-year college, Delaware State Treasurer Colleen Davis announces the Aspire529 program. Aspire529 is a pilot program for youth in or aging out of the foster care system to help them pay for expenses related to college or vocational training.

“Fewer than one-third of those aging out of foster care last year with a high school diploma or GED in Delaware went on to enroll in college or trade school,” said Treasurer Davis. “With many facing financial obstacles like the cost of transportation and child care, the option of pursuing higher education is too often overlooked.”

The annual awards are available on a first-come, first-served basis with youth able to submit one application per academic year. Upon application submission, review, and approval by the Office of the State Treasurer, a total of up to 20 qualified applicants will be eligible to receive an award of $529. The money may be used towards accompanying costs associated with obtaining a degree in higher education such as paying for books and supplies, materials required for skills training, transportation costs and child care.

The application period runs from June 1, 2022, until July 31, 2022. Winners will be notified by September 1, 2022. The online application can be found here.

To be eligible for an award, a student must:

  • Be under age 26, and:
    • At least 14 years old and currently in Department of Services for Children, Youth, & Their Families (DSCYF) Custody (foster care); or
    • Exited DSCYF Custody to adoption or guardianship at the age of 16 years or older; or
    • Aged out of foster care in Delaware at age 18.
  • Complete a current-year Delaware Aspire529 application prior to the deadline. (July 31st)
  • Be a Delaware resident.
  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or approved refugee.
  • Be an undergraduate student.
  • Show proof of enrollment or attendance at an institution of higher learning or trade school, AND if already attending, must be making satisfactory academic or vocational progress toward completion of that program. Proof of enrollment or attendance can be requested through your school’s registrar or administrative offices.

“Young adults aging out of foster care are met with many financial and logistical challenges when it comes to attending college and/or trade schools,” said Sophia Elliott, Transitional & Independent Living Program Manager with DSCYF’s Division of Family Services. “This award will help break down barriers and open up doors for youth to begin their post-secondary education journey. The Aspire529 award will help pave the way for youth to successfully achieve their education goals!”

The Office of the State Treasurer joined with $tand By Me® to provide a practical financial literacy course to complement the award. Each recipient will participate in two free, private, one-on-one financial coaching sessions from trained, skilled professionals.

“Stand By Me has partnered with several local organizations looking for ways to tackle the challenges of financial literacy to youth transitioning into adulthood,” said Shayne Lewis, Stand By Me Program Supervisor. “We are especially committed to improving financial literacy among youth facing increased financial challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.”

“The dollar amount of the award becomes much more valuable when paired with the financial education that winners will receive along with it,” Treasurer Davis said. “With the support of Aspire529, state agencies, and advocacy groups, we can help build a brighter future for foster youth as they set out on their own.”

Aspire529 provides support to youth in foster care who have overcome tremendous obstacles to obtain an education,” said Caroline Jones, President and Founder of Kind to Kids Foundation. “These awards will help our community’s most vulnerable youth achieve advanced education and become productive and successful members of our society. Thank you to State Treasurer Colleen Davis for providing this funding and making a positive impact in their lives.”

Questions about the Aspire529 program can be sent to