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10 College Scholarships for Adopted Children

What’s Covered:


College scholarships are awarded for a variety of reasons, with everything from excellent academics to athletic achievement to duck-calling ability providing opportunities to earn money for higher education. In addition to skills and accomplishments, factors like where you live, what you plan to study, and your background (such as being adopted) can qualify you for numerous scholarships—for example, these 10 scholarships for adopted students.


10 Scholarships for Adopted Students


1. Foster Care to Success


Amount: $2,500-$5,000

Deadline: March 31 


  • Been in public or private foster care for the 12 consecutive months leading up to and including 18th birthday, or adopted or placed into legal guardianship after 16th birthday, or been orphaned at least a year at the time of 18th birthday and not subsequently adopted
  • Under the age of 25 at the application deadline in the year they apply 
  • Orphaned or in foster care while living in the U.S.—U.S. citizenship isn’t required
  • Accepted or expecting acceptance into an accredited, Pell-eligible college or other post-secondary schools


Since 2000, Foster Care to Success has awarded over $15 million to 2,000 students, helping students from foster homes in all 50 states achieve brighter futures. The scholarship is available to undergraduates only and is renewable for up to five years or until the student earns their degree. The Foster Care to Success program has a long history of success, with a graduation rate of 65% and an annual retention rate of 85%, both above the national average.


2. National Foster Parents Association (NFPA) Youth Scholarship


Amount: $500

Deadline: April 2022  


  • Parent or supportive adult who is a member of the NFPA
  • Senior in high school

Application Requirements:

  • Minimum of two letters of recommendation from foster parents, social workers, residential center, principal/teacher/guidance counselor, or employer
  • High school transcript 
  • 300- to 500-word essay on “how my foster care experience has shaped my future goals”


The NFPA’s mission is to support the caregivers of the nation’s most vulnerable children and youth, but through this scholarship, they provide financial assistance for college to birth, foster, kinship, and youth adopted through foster care. The NFPA Youth Scholarship is open to applicants graduating high school or getting their GED.  


3. Together We Rise Family Fellowship 


Amount: Up to $18,000

Deadline: May 2022 


  • Ages 18-23 (applicants age 17 can apply with a guardian’s signature)
  • U.S. Citizen 
  • Lived in foster care while living in the U.S.
  • Lived in public or private foster care for the 12 consecutive months before and including their 18th birthday, or was adopted or placed into legal guardianship from foster care after their 13th birthday, or was orphaned for at least one year at the time of their 18th birthday
  • Accepted to or expects acceptance to an accredited, Pell-eligible college or other post-secondary institution
  • Minimum 2.5 GPA

Application Requirements:

  • High school transcript
  • College acceptance letter
  • Foster care verification 
  • Three- to five-page personal statement 
  • One- to three-minute video testimonial 
  • Headshot 
  • Letter of recommendation 


This prestigious award is designed to propel youth in foster care into higher education through financial, educational, and wrap-around support. Fellowship winners are selected using a variety of factors—including extracurricular activities like community service and volunteer work, academic merit, career ambitions, and their application essay. Fellowship recipients have an established track record of success at some of the nation’s leading colleges and universities and graduate at an astounding 95% rate.


4. Adoption STAR Academic Scholarship Program


Amount: Varies

Deadline: Varies 


  • Adopted or in foster care and has overcome adversity 
  • Demonstrated good character and high achievement 
  • History of academic progress through high school 
  • Plans to attend a four-year college

Application Requirements:

  • Two letters of recommendation—one from a teacher or guidance counselor
  • High school transcript 
  • 1,000-word (or less) personal statement
  • Willingness to share their name, photo, personal statement, and an update after they begin college


The Adoption STAR Academic Scholarship Program provides financial support to high-achieving students of good character with college aspirations who have either been adopted or are in foster care. The scholarship seeks out students in particular who have overcome adversity and demonstrated academic improvement as they progress through school.


5. Nicholas & Helena Patti Foundation Scholarship


Amount: Up to $6,500

Deadline: November 1, 2021 


  • Preference is given to those who have been orphaned or raised in a foster home
  • Limited to persons with Italian parentage 
  • Enrolled at an accredited college and completed one year of study 
  • Have selected music or education as their field of study 

Application Requirements:

  • College transcript 
  • Strong academic performance and demonstrated musical talent 
  • Two letters of recommendation from foster/adoptive parents, social workers, home advisors, guidance counselors, or teachers
  • 500-word (or less) essay on how winning the scholarship will help them fulfill their personal and professional goals and how music has impacted their life 
  • Current photo 


This scholarship assists adopted students and students in foster care to meet their personal and professional goals of attending college takes multiple factors into consideration—including ethnicity, musical aptitude, and academic success. In addition, applicants should demonstrate leadership and a commitment to serving the Italian-American community.


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6. UMPS CARE Charities All-Star College Scholarship


Amount: Up to $10,000

Deadline: May 2022 


  • Adopted or exited foster care to permanent guardianship at, or after, age 13
  • Demonstrated financial need
  • Minimum 2.5 GPA 
  • Incoming college freshmen under the age of 20

Application Requirements:

  • Four short answer/essays
  • Three letters of recommendation:
    • One from a teacher or administrator 
    • One from a personal reference, such as a social worker, coach, or mentor
    • One from a parent that highlights how the applicant has grown since the adoption 
  • High school transcript 
  • FAFSA 
  • Copy of adoption or legal guardianship paperwork 


UMPS CARE Charities All-Star College Scholarship helps give applicants a healthy lead into their future by providing financial support and mentorship. In addition to awarding more than a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships since its inception, UMPS CARE All-Star College Scholarship recipients are paired with an MLB umpire and their family who stay in contact through phone calls and care packages, while also providing on-field experiences at major-league ballparks. 


7. Holt Adoptee Scholarship Contest


Amount: $500

Deadline: July 2022 


  • Adoptee (from any agency, domestic or international)
  • Graduating high school and planning to attend an institution of higher education 

Application Requirements:

  • A creative interpretation of a prompt that changes annually, past prompts are:
  • What’s in a name? Revealing the stories behind our adoptive names, birth names, and nicknames. Tell us how your name(s) impacts your identity.
  • A Portrait of Me: An Adoptee. A creative expression of who you are.
  • If you were to register for an “Adoptee 101” class next fall, what would it teach you? Who would teach it? Why? 
  • A 200-word (or less) artist statement 


Holt International awards three scholarships annually through its Holt Adoptee Scholarship Contest. Applicants are encouraged to creatively respond to a prompt and accept a wide variety of mediums, including self-portraits, essays, digital art, zines, songs, original choreography, poetry, and short films.


8. Daniel A. Terry Scholarships 


Amount: $2,000

Deadline: May 2022


  • Natural or legally adopted child of a California firefighter who died in the line of duty 
  • Age 27 or younger 
  • Possess a high school diploma, GED, or in their final year of high school 

Application Requirements:

  • Certificate of enrollment from university or post-secondary institution 
  • Family photo 
  • 500-word (or less) essay answering “How did your experience as a child of a fallen firefighter affect your life and how will this scholarship impact your future?
  • Two-page (maximum) autobiography 
  • Completed W-9 


This scholarship honors its namesake’s more than three-decade-long commitment to building better lives for California firefighters by providing financial support to the children of the state’s fallen firefighters. 


9. Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association Scholarship


Amount: $250 

Deadline: April 2022


  • Applicants must reside in the United States and meet one of the following requirements:
    • Granted permanent residency
    • Possess a valid visa that does not prohibit educational studies
    • Granted temporary protected status along with approved Notice of
    • Action issued by Citizen Immigration Services and verified through CIS Form G-845 or have been granted asylum along with the approved Notice of Action
  • Must have been a ward of the state of Nebraska
  • Can’t receive 100% tuition reimbursement from another source

Application Requirements:

  • Two- to four-page message answering one of the following prompts: 
    • What was the most defining moment in your life and how has it made you a better person?
    • Highlight your personal experience of foster care, adoption or guardianship.
    • Once I graduate from college, how will I make an impact on society?
    • How has the COVID Pandemic affected my foster care/adoption journey?
    • Why I should be considered for the Nebraska Foster & Adoptive Association
    • Scholarship.
  • Photo of applicant
  • Two letters of recommendation 


The Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parents Association (NFAPA) awards this scholarship annually to a student who has received foster care, adoption, or guardianship and wishes to pursue their education beyond high school. Depending on the amount of funding available and the number of applicants, the NFAPA may award more than one scholarship in a year.


10. Vermont John H. Chafee Education and Training Scholarship


Amount: Up to $5,000

Deadline: March 2022 


  • Vermont resident 
  • Experienced Department for Children and Families (DCF) custody after the age of 14 (after age 16 if exited to adoption or legal guardianship).
  • 26 years or younger and have not participated in the program for more than five years
  • Demonstrated financial need
  • Attend an accredited school approved for federal Title IV funding (Pell grants, federal Direct loans)

Application Requirements:


The Vermont John H. Chafee Education and Training Scholarship provides recent high school graduates who’ve been in the state’s foster care system to prepare for their futures by providing funding for job training programs and higher education. Through this program, students can enroll in any program and attend school either full-time or part-time, so long as the institution is accredited and approved for federal Title IV funding. 



Tips for Applying to Scholarships


As the price of college continues to grow, so does competition for scholarships. Luckily, there are a handful of steps you can take to improve your odds of winning an award:


  • Research scholarships and apply for ones that meet your own unique traits and strengths—for example, scholarships for adopted children, scholarships based on nationality, or given to speakers of a certain language
  • The more scholarships you apply for, the greater your chance of earning an award—shoot for the stars and apply for big awards like the Horatio Alger Scholarship, but don’t overlook more niche awards, like those focused on adopted children
  • Understand the requirements, follow the directions, and proofread—there is nothing worse than pouring time and energy into an award you don’t qualify for or sinking your chances of winning by making a silly mistake or error.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.