VEGAS LOST: New program waives nearly all college fees for Nevada foster kids

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For teenagers in the foster system the dream of a college education is often only a dream. Until now.

The Nevada System of Higher Education is announcing a new program; waiving almost all fees for foster kids essentially giving them a free or nearly-free chance at college at community colleges or state-run schools like UNLV. Any kid who started foster care by the time they were 14 gets access to the program until they are 26.

For Chancellor Thom Reilly, who once ran the child welfare system in Nevada, it’s a chance to change the lives of a group of kids he has spent much of his life working with.

“The pathway to social mobility is education.” Reilly told us, “Its getting high school and something beyond. What this does it helps give a boost to this population.”

Foster kids are at risk. When they turn eighteen they age out of the system, their support is gone. On their own many of them fight homelessness, many will struggle. This new program aims to change that. A foster kid who applies and gets accepted will be paired with a case worker at their school. They will get help finding a place to live and learning basics like bank accounts and drivers licenses. Financial aid can then be used for living expenses.

“What gets in the way is not just the financial challenges,” Reilly said. “But life challenges. Making peace, managing relationships, being on your own at age 18.”

The NSHE will partner with child welfare groups to spread information on how foster kids can apply.

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