Growing up, life could be challenging and unstable for Soraya and her family. While she loved being at school and cherished time with her friends, at home things were chaotic. Her family grappled with divorce and the stress of mental health challenges. She was placed in foster care.
Despite these challenges, Soraya completed a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of British Columbia, one of the most prestigious post-secondary institutions in Canada. She has now completed her MCAT exams, and is awaiting results of her applications to medical school.
While at UBC, Soraya received support with her living expenses from the Youth Futures Education Fund (Youth Futures), helping make her dream of a post-secondary education, possible.
“When you’re young, you have big dreams,” says Soraya. “Dreams of graduating high school, going to prom with your crush, moving out of your family’s house and going to university – all with support from your family. But it’s different for kids in foster care.
Help beyond tuition
While tuition waivers from the Province of B.C. go a long way to supporting youth who age out of care, tuition is not the only cost of getting a post-secondary education.
Basic living expenses for students – including rent, phone, internet, transportation and food – are almost $20,000 per year, on average.
Most young people entering college or university have support from their families to cover these costs. In fact, 92% of B.C. parents with children under 30, support them financially.
Youth Futures helps former youth in care, like Soraya, who often don’t have access to the same supports.
“It relieved the stress of living expenses so I could focus on school,” Soraya says. “Now, I can continue to pursue my dream of becoming a physician and giving back to others who have experienced difficulties in life.”
The program is seeing incredible results. Only 4% of students who use the fund withdraw from their studies – an incredibly low drop-out rate for students with such complex barriers to post-secondary education. The most common use for funds – buying books for school.
This fund was made possible by innovative partnerships from many sectors across the province, including Coast Capital Savings and the Province of B.C.