What is the ETV Program?
Educational and Training Vouchers are grants, funded by the federal government and administered by the states, awarded for youth with foster care experience pursuing a post-secondary education in an approved educational program.
Youth may enroll in accredited or pre-accredited public, private, or non-profit institutions of higher education that:
- provides a bachelor's degree program or at least a 2-year program that provides credit towards a degree or certification (and enrolled in at least 6 semester hours); or
- provides not less than a one-year program of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation; or
- offers training programs and has been existence for at least two years preparing students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.
Who is Eligible?
- Youth currently in the custody of the Department of Social Services with Successful Transition to Adulthood as part of the case plan
- Youth who were in the custody of DSS at 18 years of age are eligible for up to $5,000.00 per year in ETV funding for post-secondary schooling (college) for up to 5 years, whether consecutive or not, or until their 26th birthday, whichever comes first.
- Youth who leave care to adoption/kinship/ guardianship at or after age 16 are eligible for up to $5,000.00 per year in ETV funding for post-secondary schooling (college) for up to 5 years, whether consecutive or not, or until their 26th birthday, whichever comes first. Youth who leave for adoption/kinship/ guardianship must have been in foster care for a minimum of 6 months.
- Youth who leave care to reunification at or after age 14 are eligible for up to $5,000.00 per year in ETV funding for post-secondary schooling (college) for up to 5 years, whether consecutive or not, or until their 26th birthday, whichever comes first. Youth who leave for reunification must have been in foster care for a minimum of 6 months.
Youth are eligible for ETV funds as long as they are enrolled in college, making satisfactory progress, and have not reached the age of 26, even if they are not in care. The following (3) factors may be considered in determining eligibility:
- Acceptance to a technical school, college, university, or other program that meets the ETV criteria
- Students who demonstrate academic achievement or show a marked improvement in educational functioning
- The long term goal and plan for meeting that goal
What does ETV Funds cover?
The awarding of ETV funds depends on the cost of the school and the amount of grants and scholarships the youth receives. The $5,000 award is to be applied to all costs associated with the cost of attendance to a post-secondary school. ETV awarded funds are divided by the number of terms enrolled. Approvals are based on program funds availability and may not cover entire expense. Cost of attendance, deposits, tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board, must be paid before any other services that also may have been approved.
The ETV Award may be up to $5,000 per academic year and cover expenses directly related to cost of program and expenses related to supporting completing post-secondary goal. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Tuition and fees
- College and/or dorm deposits
- Books, supplies and uniforms
- Room and board on campus
- Rent if living off campus
- Food allowance for commuting students/ meal cards
- Personal items
- Parking fees
- Required educational software
- Specialized equipment
- Child care
How to apply for ETV Funds?
First: Download and complete the ETV application
Second: Provide the supporting documents:
- Acceptance Letter
- Financial Award Letter (generated from completing FASFA https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa)
- Class Schedule (if available at time of application)
- SC Need-Based Grant Waiver Form (for first time applicants)
- Unofficial Transcripts (for returning student)
Third: Discuss the additional needed services with your DSS case manager. If there are any questions, please contact IndependentLiving@dss.sc.gov for guidance and support.
Fourth: It is the youth’s responsibility to provide unofficial transcripts each semester and to notify the Chafee/ETV Program of any changes to enrollment and financial aid.
Applications can be emailed, faxed, or mailed. DSS providers are able to send an encrypted email. All non-DSS requestors must fax or mail the request form in order to protect youth’s confidentiality. If the application is faxed, it is not necessary to mail or email the request.
Email Address: IndependentLiving@dss.sc.gov
Fax Number: 803-898-1209
SCDSS- Chafee/ETV Program
1535 Confederate Avenue
Post Office Box 1520
Columbia, SC 29202-1520
Applications will be reviewed as they are received on an ongoing basis. Case managers are contacted via email or telephone by the Chafee/ETV Program Coordinator when more information is needed. Upon receipt of completed funding request (with all necessary supporting documentation), a decision regarding approval will be made and the county will be notified.
It can take up to two weeks for requests to be reviewed and processed. Once the requests has been approved it can take up to two weeks for funds to be transferred from state office to county office. Once the funds are at the county office, the case manager must submit a check request to release those funds to the vendor, youth, or provider. The case manager will notify you that the funds have arrived and coordinate the best course to deliver those funds.
In some cases, the ETV funds can be sent directly to the school for payment.
In order for the second-semester funds to be released youth must provide the following:
- Unofficial transcripts (most recent semester grades)
- Proof of continued enrollment (Spring semester schedule, Spring semester financial statement)