Skip to main content

Post-Secondary Education Services

The Post-secondary Program provides resources, mentoring and financial assistance to current and former youth in care seeking various post-secondary options, including two-year and four-year college programs, vocational programs, apprenticeships and internships.

Important college preparation activities

Junior year

  • Attend college tours.
  • March: Take the ACT/SAT.
  • Spring: Take the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE).

Senior year

  • October and November: Begin sending out applications to college(s) of interest.
  • October: Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
  • January - March: Apply for DCFS Scholarship.
  • Apply for self-identified college scholarships, noting application deadlines.

Post-high school graduation

  • Complete all financial aid paperwork at school.
  • Attend college orientations once accepted.
  • Enroll into the DCFS Youth in College placement (at least two months prior to attending college of choice).

DCFS post-secondary programs

Tuition and Fee Waiver Program
Tuition and fee waivers are available to a youth or former youth in care for the first five years that the youth or former youth in care is enrolled in an Illinois community college or public university so long as the youth makes satisfactory progress toward completing his or her degree. The community college or public university must waive any tuition and fee amounts that exceed the amounts paid to the eligible student under the federal Pell Grant Program or the state's Monetary Award Program. To apply, fill out the application and email it to along with a student schedule that includes the student’s name, school name, term and student ID number. possible as they are processed on a first come, first serve basis: Fall Term: Aug. 15; Spring Term: Jan. 15; Summer Term: June 15.

Education and Training Voucher (ETV)
This program assists youth with cost of attendance and post-secondary education related expenses not covered by financial aid grants or the DCFS Tuition and Fee Waiver. Applicants must fill out the application legibly and completely, ensuring the student’s name, name of the school and the term are included. The complete ETV application packet must be received prior to June 30 of the fiscal year the expense is incurred.

DCFS Scholarship Program
The DCFS Scholarship Program provides at least 53 scholarships each year; four of which are awarded to children of veterans. Scholarship recipients will receive a waiver of tuition and mandatory fees if they attend a local Illinois community college or state university. The application period is January through March 31 each year. For the current year’s application, email

Youth in College Program
The Youth in College/Vocational Training (YIC/VT) Program is available to youth for whom the department is legally responsible and who are enrolled in an accredited, full-time post-secondary educational or vocational training program. Youth in this program have up to five years of eligibility or through age 25 (whichever occurs first). Youth receive a one-time start-up payment and a monthly board payment to assist with room, board and personal expenses. Full-time enrollment and a minimum term GPA of 2.0 is required. Fill out the application here.

For more information about the programs listed above, read the Getting there Tip Sheets in EnglishSpanish and Polish.

Youth in Care - College Advocate Program (Y-CAP)
The Y-CAP (Youth in Care - College Advocate Program) provides youth with foster care experience ongoing support in navigating the college landscape. Peer advocates and students collaborate to build community, develop healthy social networks and overcome the challenges of college life through mutual support and relationship building. Peer advocates are current college students with foster care experience who are on track to successfully complete their programs of study. They’ve experienced the joys and challenges of college life and they share that knowledge with incoming students. 

Other post-secondary resources

Laura C. Gutierrez
Post-Secondary Education Specialist
IL Department of Children and Family Services
15115 S. Dixie Hwy.
Harvey, IL 60426  

Nashun Avery
Post-Secondary Education Specialist
15115 S. Dixie Hwy.
Harvey, IL 60426
Kim Peck
Downstate Education and Transition Services Administrator
DCFS Office of Education and Transition Services
406 E. Monroe Street, #23
Springfield, IL 62701
Office: 217-557-2689
Cell: 217-652-5223
Fax: 217-524-2101 

For general information, please email​