Saturday, August 18, 2007

Will the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act be retroactive?

My friend and her sister were adopted by a couple who also adopted two other sibling groups (making six adopted children total in their household).

Then, this couple divorced --- and in the aftermath, neither has stepped up to the mat to support my friend during her college years. Will the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act apply to her? Is it retroactive?

My friend is 20 years old, and a sophomore in college -- and she is facing these challenges on her own. I wonder if this legislation will or will not apply retrospectively to her?

On July 20, 2007, the Higher Education Access Act of 2007 passed the Senate by a vote of 78-18, increasing college access and affordability by boosting financial aid.

The Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act, was introduced by Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to amend the Higher Education Access Act. It is intended to encourage the adoption of older children by not forcing a teenager to choose between a loving family and financial aid.

Current law allows youth who "age out" of the foster care system to qualify for virtually all college loans and grants, while essentially penalizing those who are adopted.

The Coleman-Landrieu amendment expands the definition of "independent student" as defined in current law to include youth in foster care who are adopted after their tenth birthday. This allows a student's financial aid eligibility to be determined solely by that student's ability to pay, regardless of his or her adoptive family's income level, since many families who adopt teenagers and pre-teens may have done so without being able to shoulder the entire burden of college tuition.

"Education and a loving family are two key components of a child's mental and emotional development. No child should have to choose between the two," said Senator Coleman.

"Under current law, adopted teenagers lose out on some or all college financial aid for which they would otherwise have been eligible, depending on his or her adopted parents' financial situation. I applaud the Senate for passing our amendment to alleviate this discrepancy and encourage teen and pre-teen adoption."

"It is unacceptable for students to receive less financial aid merely because they were adopted," Senator Landrieu said.

"Restricting the financial aid opportunities of adopted teens unfairly penalizes them simply for seeking the love and stability that only a family can offer. This amendment corrects such unwise law by allowing adopted children to receive the financial help they need to attend college and realize their full potential."

Source: Press release by the National Foster Parent Association

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