Guardian Scholarship - AMP | Achieving Maximum Potential

Guardian Scholarship

Empowering Foster Care Youth

The Guardian Scholars Foundation provides a comprehensive program that leverages the expertise and resources of both the public and private sector to create a synergy of support for youth who have spent time in the foster care system in Iowa between the ages of 14-18.  A Guardian Scholarship is more than a scholarship: together, a network of academic institutions and community organizations, public service agencies, and private citizens create a community dedicated to assisting foster youth in achieving their educational goals.

The Guardian Scholars Foundation works with the Department of Human Services to locate young adults who have spent time in the foster care system between the ages of 14-18 and wish to attend college full-time. The program helps to facilitate their dreams by working with the host college to create a support system of administration, professors, and financial aid associates ready to work with the academic inequality and financial instability that often accompany an individual from the foster system.  

We are a bridge scholarship that covers expenses not covered by financial aid. We provide up to $4,000 per semester for up to eight semesters. We pay directly to the school after all financial aid has been applied, but before student loans are taken out. We cover tuition, room & board and books. Students must be full-time status to qualify. We also provide an adult mentor to provide support along the way. Students must be from Iowa and attending accredited Iowa schools. Qualifying applicants must have a minimum of a 2.3 GPA and be in good standing in the high schools they are coming from. Students must apply for all available federal and state financial each year to qualify and maintain a full-time status while in school. 


The goal of the Guardian Scholars program is to help fund educational costs for each scholar by providing up to  $8,000 per year to add to state and federal assistance and supplements from the host university.


After becoming inspired by the state of California's Guardian Scholars program, created by friend Ron Davis, Guardian Scholars Foundation founder Craig W. Sandahl decided to create a branch in his home state of Iowa.  GSF's first scholars, Jessica Vega-Argueta and Dez Broeg, entered the pilot program at Buena Vista University in the falls of 2011 and 2009 and graduated with degrees in psychology and environmental sciences respectively in Spring, 2013.

Currently, Buena Vista University, Grand View University, Waldorf College and Drake University have teamed up with the Guardian Scholars Foundation to become partner colleges.  When a student is accepted as a Guardian Scholar at a partner college the institution agrees to gift an additional $8,000 per year on top of previously offered aid and the Guardian Scholars gift, in order to attempt to guarantee paid tuition, room and board, and a stipend for textbooks.  Within the next year, GSF hopes to work with many colleges in the state of Iowa and greatly grow the number of students receiving aid. However, students are not restricted to attend our partner colleges.

View and print our informational brochure here.

The Guardian Scholars Foundation seeks high school graduates who have shown a desire to continue onto an undergraduate program; young adults who have proven academic merit and drive; those who have exercised a motivation to succeed inside and outside of the classroom shown through leadership and good decision-making.  After meeting the minimum requirements set by the individual colleges, a potential Guardian Scholar must:

  • have graduated in good standing with a minimum of a 2.3 GPA from high school or have shown considerable improvement while attending secondary education and spent time in Iowa foster care between the ages of 14-18. Scholarships are for students from Iowa going to school in the state of Iowa.
  • gain admission to the chosen college(s) and receive their financial aid package.
  • submit a Guardian Scholars application and Release and Consent Form as soon as possible after gaining admission to college.

Applications may be found at 

GUARDIAN SCHOLARSHIP: The Guardian Scholarship provides up to $8000 per year for tuition as well as mentoring/tutoring, stipend for textbooks, a place to stay over holidays, and a number of other supports. The due date is March 1st - the website which includes the scholarship criteria & application is below. Youth may apply for this scholarship in addition to the ETV & All Iowa Opportunity Foster Care Grant.

 Candidates must also apply for all available financial aid.

Thomas Wolff | Executive Director


Empowering Foster Care Youth Through Education

phone: 515.528.4238



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