College Checklist for Foster Youth

There's a lot to manage your senior year! Use this checklist to take it step-by-step to ensure your hope for a college degree turns into a plan. If it seems like too much to do on your own, you're right! No one succeeds alone, and this journey of getting into college wasn't meant to be traveled without a guide. If you'd like help, apply to our mentoring program or contact us to set up a coaching session. We love to help youth succeed. That's why we're here. 

Important Documents

I have my State ID or Driver’s License
I have my Birth Certificate
I have my Social Security Card
I have documentation that I am a foster youth (e.g. a letter from my caseworker or a court order; may be needed for financial aid offices)


I know how to get the right accommodations for test taking if I have an IEP or 504 Plan
I took the ACT or SAT
I studied and retook the ACT or SAT



I applied for at least 5 colleges, including “Reach” schools, “Match” schools, “Safety” schools
The colleges that I’m considering were all indicated on the FAFSA
My high school transcripts have been sent to colleges that require it
I completed Common App
I applied for Youth in Scholarship, AKA the DCFS Scholarship, between Jan 1-March 31
I applied for Youth in College through my caseworker
I applied for the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) (after receiving financial aid award letters from the college I chose)
I applied for Together We Rise Scholarship

college decisions

I have visited the colleges I’m interested in
I have explored career interests and narrowed down potential majors
I have explored the retention and graduation rates for students like me at my top choice college

Medical and Mental Health

I have a plan for birth control
I know where to get medical care on campus
I know where to get mental health care on campus
I know where to get prescriptions filled on campus
I transferred medical records to provider near campus
I have my medical card for insurance


I filled out the FAFSA (after October 1), including at least one in-state school
I completed the CSS Profile
I have a bank account in my own name
I started saving for emergencies
I created a budget for spending and saving
I have a plan to pay for all four years (or more) of college, not just tuition, room, and board, but also books, fees, transportation, and other expenses
I know how to use my bank’s website/app for online banking
I will be able to continue to use my bank on campus

Transportation and housing

I know where I will live over breaks from school
I know where I will live during school
I know how to use public transportation while in college
I know how I will get to college on move-in day
I know how I will get home from college for breaks

Spring Decision Time

I compared/contrasted award letters with my mentor
I notified all the colleges that accepted me whether I will enroll or not
I have a job or a summer internship lined up
I have finalized my financial aid plan
I have logged on to my college’s online system
I have completed housing and health forms
I have completed subject area placement tests
I have answered roommate preference surveys
I have registered for classes
I know how and where to buy my books
If I had accommodations through an IEP or 504 Plan in high school, I contacted the disability support services on campus and sent them documentation of my disability

Independent Living Skills

I know how to do laundry, ironing, and sew on a button
I know how to cook some healthy meals and eat a balanced diet
I know how to take care of myself when I get sick or in a medical emergency
I know how to stay safe, avoid the risks of alcohol and drug abuse
I know how to keep my valuables safe and what to do if I lose them
I know how to manage my time and keep track of important dates
I know how to take notes, study for a test, and where to access tutoring
I know how to develop a relationship with my professors

The Next Few Years

I know about earning the $1,200 stipend through Countdown to 21 (which I can start when I’m 19 if I’m still in foster care)
I will fill out the FAFSA every year after October 1
I know how to maintain my scholarships and financial aid

If you'd like help, apply to our mentoring program or contact us to set up a coaching session. We love to help youth succeed. That's why we're here!