Governor Carney Signs Bill Creating Tuition Waiver Program for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

New program waives tuition, room and board at Delaware public universities and colleges for eligible students

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney on Thursday signed into law House Bill 123, legislation sponsored by Representative Krista Griffith and Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth Lockman that creates the Delaware Fostering Independence Through Education Tuition Waiver Program to support students in foster care as they work toward a higher education degree. This new program requires Delaware State University, Delaware Tech Community College and the University of Delaware to waive all tuition and fees, including room and board, for any youth who has aged out or spent at least one year in foster care as a teenager.

“Making sure all of Delaware’s students have an opportunity to succeed has been our top priority,” said Governor Carney. “This legislation will ensure some of our most vulnerable children are supported when pursuing higher education. Thank you to Representatives Griffith and Longhurst, Senators Lockman and Poore, the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, and other advocates who carried this important legislation over the finish line. Our children will be better off because of it.”

Under this legislation, eligible students must apply for any and all financial aid before being granted the tuition waiver for any leftover tuition and fees. Students may use the tuition waiver until they turn 27.

“Investing in our students’ dreams has a ripple effect across Delaware. With this tuition waiver program, our youth in care have a chance to leap over obstacles as they enter adulthood. I’m thankful for the support of our Governor and the Delaware Legislature to make this program a reality,” said Josette Manning, Cabinet Secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families (DSCYF). “Our youth who experience foster care are incredibly resilient, despite facing a disproportionate number of challenges in their young lives, and we can do our part as a state to support them on their journey.”

Prior to this legislation being signed, youth experiencing foster care only had access to the federal Chafee Educational and Training Voucher program and the Ivyane D.F. Davis Memorial Scholarship Fund, a state-funded scholarship program. With the tuition waiver program in place, youth who have experienced foster care can pursue their dreams without worrying about how to pay for college or where to find housing.

“We know that young people who have been through the foster care system as teens and have aged out experience worse outcomes overall than their peers in terms of educational attainment, full-time employment, stable housing and financial independence,” said Rep. Krista Griffith, lead House sponsor of HB 123. “We can do more to make sure our students in foster care thrive as adults by removing the financial barrier to higher education. This will encourage youth in foster care to go out and earn a college degree, giving them tools they need to identify and obtain a path forward to achieving their dreams.”

“Young people who have worked hard to get to college after spending significant time in Delaware’s foster care system deserve every ounce of our support,” said Senate Majority Whip Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman. “I want to thank Rep. Krista Griffith and Governor John Carney for recognizing that fact and taking action today to remove barriers that prevent some of our most vulnerable young people from achieving their goals, realizing their potential, and embarking on an education that will lead them to a brighter future.”

According to DSCYF, it is estimated that about 15-20 incoming freshmen will likely take advantage of tuition waivers under House Bill 123 each year. Governor Carney supported this legislation in his 2020 State of the State Address.

“This legislation is so important,” said Mayda Berrios, student at Delaware State University. “Although I’m graduating this year, I am so happy that some many young people will be able to benefit from this. Thanks to the members of the General Assembly who pushed this beyond the Youth Advisory Council and made this into a bill today so that the future generation of foster youth who are experiencing hardships can now experience higher education.”  

Additional information on the tuition waiver program can be found here.

Video from today’s bill signing can be found here.

Photos from today’s bill signing can be found here.

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DSHA Launches Homeownership Program for Recent College Graduates

DOVER – Governor John Carney and Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) Director Anas Ben Addi announced the launch of a new homeownership program for recent college graduates at an event recognizing Homeownership Month. The new program, Homes for Grads, will offer discounted rates on DSHA’s down payment assistance loans for homebuyers who have graduated college with a four-year degree or higher in the last three years.

Joining the Governor and Director Ben Addi to launch the program were elected officials, higher education officials, realtors, lenders and housing counselors.

Homes for Grads will provide a reduced mortgage rate of 50 basis points or one-half of a percentage for recent college graduates when they are accessing one of DSHA’s Preferred Plus loans which include down payment and settlement assistance.

“Having an educated workforce is critically important to our state, but one of the economic development challenges we face is attracting college graduates to our state and keeping them here,” said Governor Carney. “The Homes for Grads program is another incentive we can offer to encourage these graduates to make Delaware their home. We think this can have a lasting impact on our state’s economic wellbeing by encouraging our best and brightest residents to stay here in Delaware, contributing to our economy and to our communities.”

With the cost of a college education continuing to rise each year, many graduates will leave school with student debt, including 65 percent of Delawareans. This debt can be a significant barrier to affording monthly payments and saving for a down payment.

“We want to make buying a home a reality for more Delawareans throughout our state. The Homes for Grads program will help us reach this recent college graduate population who may be struggling with student debt and facing other barriers to homeownership,” said Director Ben Addi. “The program will make the home-buying process easy and affordable for those who have just completed their college education.”

“The Homes for Grads program offers a great opportunity for Delaware State University graduates to put down roots here in our state,” said Provost Tony Allen. “Our graduates have the knowledge and skills that Delaware employers are looking for, and this new program provides an additional incentive to encourage them to buy a home and stay in Delaware after they finish their schooling.”

Homes for Grads is being funded with a $10 million commitment from DSHA and will be subsidized by revenues from DSHA’s primary homeownership loan programs. In addition, the program is financed with support from Discover Bank.

“Discover Bank is proud of our successful partnership with DSHA to provide mortgages to low- and moderate-income borrowers throughout our state,” said Bank President James J. Roszkowski. “This Homeownership Month, I am pleased to say that, through our partnership with DSHA, we helped over 2,200 families reach the goal of homeownership last year, with over $350 million in mortgage financing. The Homes for Grads program is an excellent example of DSHA’s creative strategies to improve the mortgage program. Discover Bank has $50 million in commitment remaining to DSHA for mortgage financing in 2019 to support this effort, and others, to help our neighbors, and our communities.”

DSHA will work with its participating lenders to offer the Homes for Grads program to recent college graduates. Tracy Chongling, vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate, a participating DSHA lender, said she sees great potential in the new Homes for Grads program and is thrilled to be able to offer it to potential homebuyers. “I hear every day from Delawareans who do not think they will be able to afford to buy a home, including many college graduates who have not been able to save for a down payment due to student loan debt,” she said. “This new program will help so many of these individuals and families achieve the American dream of buying their own home.”

Buyers who participate in the Homes for Grads program must meet eligibility requirements for DSHA’s homeownership loan programs, including credit score and income limits. They will be required to have a minimum credit score of 620. If their credit score is not at this number, DSHA offers financial coaching to help buyers improve their score and get on the path to homeownership.

In correlation with the launch of this new program, DSHA is also adjusting the income levels for its homeownership programs in order to provide more opportunities for residents to purchase homes in Delaware. The new income limits are based on the area median incomes for Delaware’s three counties and are tied to the number of people living in a household. Previously, DSHA used a flat household income limit for all buyers. The new income limits can be found on DSHA’s homeownership website.

Recent college graduates who are interested in learning more about how to participate in Homes for Grads should visit DSHA’s homeownership website or contact a participating lender.


State awards more than $145,000 in merit scholarships

The Delaware Department of Education has announced the recipients of four state merit scholarship programs for the 2018-19 academic year. Merit scholarships are competitive and awarded based on a student’s academic performance, participation in school activities and service to the community. Students may apply for Delaware merit scholarships in their senior year of high school. All four awards are renewable. Three of the programs are memorial scholarships that honor state legislators and provide full tuition, fees, room, board, and books at the public colleges in Delaware. Those scholarships are:

 

  • The B. Bradford Barnes Memorial Scholarship, in honor of the former Speaker of the State House of Representatives, is awarded to one student each year enrolling full-time at the University of Delaware. Dana Wilkins, a graduate of Newark Charter School, is the recipient of the B. Bradford Barnes Memorial Scholarship. Wilkins will major in biomedical engineering.

 

  • The Herman M. Holloway, Sr. Memorial Scholarship, in honor of the first African-American State Senator in Delaware, is awarded to one student each year enrolling full-time at Delaware State University. Carissa Thorne, a graduate of Caesar Rodney High School in the Caesar Rodney School District received the Herman M. Holloway, Sr. Memorial Scholarship. Thorne will major in kinesiology.

 

  • The Charles L. Hebner Memorial Scholarship, in honor of the former Speaker of the State House of Representatives, is awarded annually to one full-time student at the University of Delaware and one full-time student at Delaware State University who are majoring in the humanities or social sciences. (Preference is given to political science majors.) Caroline Klinger of private Padua Academy, is the recipient of the Charles L. Hebner Memorial Scholarship at University of Delaware. She will major in political science. Malia Brittingham, a homeschool graduate, is the recipient at Delaware State University. She will major in history.

 

  • The Diamond State Scholarship assists full-time students attending regionally accredited, nonprofit colleges in any state. Winners of the Diamond State Scholarship receive $1,250 per year. For the 2018-19 academic year, 35 students were awarded Diamond State Scholarships. They are listed below by high school:

 

Name High school
Silpa Annavarapu Newark Charter School
Caelan Backus Seaford Senior High School
Kierstin Blatzheim Sussex Academy
David Bondi Archmere Academy
Josh Bredbenner Worcester Preparatory School
Faith Brown Charter School of Wilmington
Muhammad Burki Dickinson (John) High School
Noah Carpe Salesianum School
Michael Chen Newark Charter School
Christopher Czerwinski Newark Charter School
Ryan Dean MOT Charter
Olivia Duke Newark Charter School
Joshua Fickes Charter School of Wilmington
Chloe Frantz Newark High School
Jessica Goldschlager Caesar Rodney High School
Melina Hudson Milford Senior High School
Tyler Imprescia Polytech High School
Pooja Kaji Charter School of Wilmington
Joni Kashner Polytech High School
Sean Kelby Newark Charter School
Cullen Kisner Caesar Rodney High School
Naomi Mengel Tall Oaks Classical School
Maria Morelli Delmar Senior High School
Timothy Mulderrig Middletown High School
Romil Patel Newark Charter School
Ankita Prasad Newark Charter School
Evan Rosario Appoquinimink High School
Ryan Singh Middletown High School
Marshall Smith Wilmington Christian School
Charlotte Swafford Mt. Sophia Academy
Ryan Tarr Appoquinimink High School
Zachary The’ Charter School of Wilmington
Maria van Venrooy Charter School of Wilmington
Tanvi Venkatesh Newark Charter School
Sarah Wearden Caesar Rodney High School

 

Media Contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006