Foster youth in California will now be able to attend college, free of charge, after a new law, SB 307, was signed into the state budget earlier this month.

According to a press release from Senator Angelique Ashby’s office, under the new Fostering Futures program, which was established within Governor Gavin Newsom’s existing Middle Class Scholarship program, the state will allocate $25 million to cover tuition for foster youth attending California State University, University of California or a community college. The funding will also cover the cost of housing, books, and food.

“Far too many foster youth want to go to college and are unable to afford it,” Sen. Ashby, who authored the bill, said in a statement. “This funding will ensure that California’s most vulnerable young people can take agency over their lives by seeking higher education. For foster youth who have lost everything, this bill provides hope that they can attend college without crippling debt — taking one critical step toward our state’s goal of making college attainable for all, and making foster youth the first to achieve debt-free college in California.”

There are approximately 60,000 children in the state’s foster care system. According to the Fostering Futures fact sheet, 93 percent of the foster community wants to attend college, but only 4 percent will obtain their bachelor’s degree by 26 years old, compared to 50 percent of the same age that are not in foster care. The program “serves to both increase the likelihood that foster youth can reach their educational goals and also better prepare them to enter the next stage of their lives, whether that involves pursuing an advanced degree or entering directly into their chosen career path, by providing the opportunity to begin their next chapter debt-free from higher education.”

The effort, which was signed by Gov. Newsom, was joint-authored by Majority Leader Mike McGuire and 22 other legislators, with sponsorship from John Burton Advocates for Youth.