The purpose of the Guardian Scholars (GS) program is to provide the resources and support to students that age out of the foster care system in Iowa. Young adults in foster care age out of state assistance at the age of 18 years old. Many of these young adults lack the emotional support and financial assistance that a typical 18 year old would benefit from their birth or adoptive parents.
The Guardian Scholars program seeks to provide financial support, emotional and academic support, and a close personal mentor that will help the recipients meet their individual needs. The program does not provide assistance for tuition, but rather assists students with other incidentals that may not otherwise be available to students that have been in the foster care system.
Specific Benefits Available
- Academic Support: GS participants will receive an annual stipend for the purchase of textbooks, general school supplies, lab fees and other associated items purchased from the University. Allowances are given if the campus book store is unable to provide these items.
- Direct Mentoring Services: The Director of Student Success will monitor and assist all GS participants. The director will personally visit, discuss and work to solve the unique challenges that face GS participants. The Director of Student Success will be responsible to manage that appropriate social, academic and spiritual support are provided to GS participants.
- Application, Parking and Housing Deposits: Application fees will be waived for all applicants who age-out of the Iowa Foster Care system. Housing deposits and annual parking fees will be paid from program funds of the GS.
- Experiential Learning Opportunities: The GS will pay partial cost for one experiential trip for a student in the program. This could include study abroad, interim or summer university-led trips, AWOL service trips, internships or another university sponsored activity. The exact amount paid through the GS program will be determined by funding available at the time of request.
- Year-round housing: Young adults who age out of the foster care system generally do not have the ability to find, fund or return to a suitable housing atmosphere after the completion of an academic year. Participants of the GS will be provided year-round housing on the Storm Lake campus of Buena Vista University.
- Summer Employment/Work Study: Buena Vista University will provide employment for all GS participants. The income generated by summer employment is paid directly to the GS participant. GS participants are responsible for preparation of their own personal meals during the summer break, clothing and all personal needs. Income generated from academic year work-study will be credited to the student’s financial aid package.
- Other Support to Consider: Faculty mentoring, career planning and professional coaching, counseling services, spiritual life/campus ministry support, and academic assistance and tutoring from the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE).
There is also financial support available to help students afford the costs of college through the Iowa Financial Aid Application and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Iowa Financial Aid Application combines applications for six undergraduate student financial aid programs, including the All Iowa Opportunity Foster Care Grant (FCG), into one application process. Collectively, these programs provided over $7 million in funding for students in 2009-10 academic year. To complete the Iowa Financial Aid Application, go to IHaveaPlanIowa.gov, create or sign in to your account.
Students will also need to complete the FAFSA to be considered for other need-based state and federal financial aid. The 2012-13 FAFSA can be completed beginning January 1, 2013 at fafsa.ed.gov.
In order to be eligible for the program, students must:
- Be applied and accepted to BVU
- Complete and submit the application for the Guardian’s Scholars Program online
- Write and submit a personal essay
- Submit two letters of recommendation