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

    • 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)

    • Included 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

Summer Before

  • 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!