(ABILENE, Texas) – Young adults who have been in foster care in the state of Texas can go to college for free.
Two Texas State Technical College instructors of Industrial Maintenance, Daniel Diaz and Demetri Jones, are making it their mission to let foster youth know about this opportunity.
The two instructors and their wives are foster parents themselves.
Diaz and Jones are raising awareness of the State College Tuition Waiver available to foster youth currently or formerly under the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and
Protective Services (DFPS) and for those adopted from DFPS.
The State College Tuition Waiver exempts or waives payment of tuition and fees at state-supported colleges and universities.
In Texas there are more than 30,000 children in foster care, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Many of these children are eligible for a tuition-free college education.
“It’s important to share this information because we see a lot of kids who age out of foster care that didn’t get the buildup that they should have to know they can go to college. (The waiver) is an option, a free option, for them,” Diaz said.
Diaz was adopted by his grandparents as a child. Now he and his wife, along with their four children, have opened their home to foster children.
“We felt called to serve through fostering, and when we learned of this opportunity for these kids, we had to share it,” Diaz said. “We want these kids to know that a technical college is a perfect avenue if the traditional college route isn’t what they want.”
As he and his wife entered the foster care process, Diaz began teaching at TSTC and met fellow instructor Jones, who has adopted two of his three children through foster care and is currently fostering.
“We found out about (the waiver) for our kids, and we want others to know,” Jones said. “My kids were raised around a technical college and have seen the success that I had because of it, and I want that for others.”
Diaz and Jones are both TSTC Industrial Maintenance alumni.
“These (foster) kids all come from different backgrounds, and some have been through some bad things, but they deserve the opportunity to succeed,” Jones said.
For potential students to take advantage of the tuition-free education, they must be enrolled in a state-supported college or university before their 25th birthday.
Foster youth and foster parents are urged to call512-438-5442 to learn more about the State College Tuition Waiver and eligibility requirements. Or, for more information on TSTC programs, go to www.tstc.edu.
From left to right, Daniel Diaz and Demetri Jones are instructors at TSTC in Abilene Industrial Maintenance Technology program. The instructors are raising awareness of education opportunities for young adults formerly in foster care.