5 minutes - Article
Youth transitioning from care are eligible for funding and support for any almost education they can dream of.
From university to hair and makeup school, to heavy equipment operating, and yes, even dog grooming, if you want to pursue it, the Advancing Futures Bursary can help make it happen.
Karisa Mackey is a Program Coordinator for Advancing Futures. She is one of the Children Services staff who you might end up on the phone with planning your next steps. She says it’s best for youth to start thinking about education years before they hit 18.
Exciting opportunities for you
“We want to be meeting with young people aged 14 or 15”, says Karisa, “This is something that you are eligible for and something that you can totally be excited about taking advantage of.”
Advancing Futures is much more than student aid. They not only cover education costs but can also help with living expenses and other financial support. As long as you apply before you turn 25 you can be funded up to age 31 (for a possible of 60 months)!
“You are eligible for up to forty thousand dollars worth of tuition fees, books and mandatory supplies” says Karisa, “Then in addition to that, there is a monthly living allowance that we pay. That can vary depending on if you're living in residence or if you're parenting young children…things like that.”
A successful education journey
Program Coordinators, like Karisa, want you to be successful and fulfill your education journey. They are able to problem solve and can be very flexible depending on your personal situation.
“If you're moving from a small community to the city to go to school, we can look at funding transportation. We can provide a damage deposit for a place. Or if you want to stay where you are, we can help you out with that so that you don't have to move out of a foster home or your current living situation, especially when you're trying to focus on your school.”
Help finding funding
Program Coordinators are also able to help when it comes to finding other sources of money.
“We can look at funding a health care benefit plan. We make sure that all of our young people can go to the doctor and fill prescriptions or get eyeglasses if they need them. We strongly recommend that they doctor themselves up while they're in school.”
Advancing Futures can also help you where you might not expect it.
“We can provide money for internet fees and Wi-Fi”, says Karisa, “Maybe you need some business attire for a practicum or scrubs and nice comfortable shoes to do your health care aide practicum.”
Not just for college or university
Advancing Futures is not just for college and university, although it works great there, it’s also there for trades, training, certificates and any other small steps you may want to take along the way.
“I think that that's one of the biggest misconceptions youth have is thinking that they need to have to have a high school diploma and be able to apply to post-secondary. That’s not true, there's over 400 schools in Alberta alone that people can attend!”
The Program Coordinators know that an education journey is not easy, and there are bumps along the way. Whether its problems at home, a toxic relationship, substance abuse issues or failing grades, they are willing to help as long as you keep them informed. Plans can change and people like Karisa are there to help.
“The more you share with us, the more helpful we can be. And the sooner you share with us, the more helpful we can be. Just know that there's someone on your side.”