The Guardian Scholars program is committed to providing holistic support to students who experienced foster care.

We know that each student is bringing a unique set of gifts, abilities, interests and goals with them to college. They have each had unique experiences in life. One size doesn't fit all! That's why it's so important to us to elevate the personal agency and voice of every student. We offer a variety of supportive services that we know have value to many students, and rely on the individuals to identify the pieces that are relevant to them in real-time. 

Flip through the tabs below to read about the most common areas of support students are receiving through the Guardian Scholars program. 

Coaching Meetings

Students in the Guardian Scholars meet regularly with their campus coach and work together to decide the meeting schedule that is best for each student based on their class standing and personal needs. Coaching meetings are each students time to express and get support for their specific needs.

Topics of emphasis often include:

Student one on one meeting with program manager

    Academic Mentoring

    • Completing courses with satisfactory grades
    • Progressing towards degree completion (SAP)
    • Communicating effectively with professional faculty, staff and professors
    • Overcoming any barriers to their academic success

    Financial Support

    • Understanding their financial aid package
    • Maintaining any needed applications or appeals related to their financial aid
    • Awareness of new and existing funding sources (scholarships, federal aid, etc)
    • Program scholarship opportunities


    Fast-track linkages to need-based campus and community support services through the Guardian Guide Network.

    The Guardian Scholars program provides students with opportunities to attend program seminars that are in support of their personal development. Students help select the seminar line-up each semester and work with their coach to determine which seminars best meet their needs! Students are encouraged to attend the seminars that are relevant to their lives.

    Students explore topics like:

    McKinley Avenue
    Academic Success

    Study Skills
    Building Belonging on Campus
    Navigating Campus Systems
    Communicating with Faculty
    Stress & Time Management
    Understanding Financial Aid
    Utilizing Campus Support Services

    frog baby fountain
    Life Skills

    Managing Your Money
    Cooking on a Budget
    Independent Living
    Healthy Relationships
    Personal Wellness
    Becoming a Licensed Driver
    Building Self-Awareness

    student in meeting
    Career Prep

    Resume Writing
    Applying to Grad School
    Practice Interviews
    Professional Wardrobe
    Email 101

    Program events are an important part of creating a community of support within the Guardian Scholars program. Students are encouraged to attend program events to help cultivate positive peer, program, campus and community relationships as we work together to build their network of support. Annual program events include:

    catered food is on a table while students enjoy a party in the background

    Fall Kick-Off

    A program orientation and welcome week event with back-to-school gifts.

    Winter Break Bash

    Celebrate the holiday season with the Guardian Scholars! Holiday fun and Winter Break Boxes full of gifts and necessities provide aid for students between terms.

    Spring Open House

    Pop-in and reconnect at the start of Spring term.

    End of Year Celebration

    Celebrate the year and program graduates at a closing ceremony event.

    Birthday Recognition

    Everyone should be celebrated on their birthday! We make sure that happens for our students.


    Generous support from donors and partner organizations also help us offer other events such as:

    • Family weekend activities
    • Thanksgiving meal
    • Other parties/events
    • Service opportunities
    • Networking/career prep opportunities

    Students in the Guardian Scholars program often face significant financial burdens and lack familial support to meet basic needs. Through grant funding and donor giving, we provide students with access to hygiene items through personal care kits, which can be requested online or during their coaching meetings and picked up discreetly!

    Beneficence statue on campus

    Items currently being distributed in personal care kits include:

    • Toothpaste
    • Toothbrush
    • Mouthwash
    • Body wash
    • Laundry detergent
    • Dryer sheets
    • Deodorant
    • Saline solution
    • Tampons
    • Pads

    We welcome donations of these items year-round at:
    Ball State University c/o Guardian Scholars
    2000 W University Ave. MC 206
    Muncie, IN 47306

    If you would like to purchase items towards our Personal Care Kits online, here is our Amazon Wishlist!

    Receiving state and federal financial aid is a necessity for most Guardian Scholars to be able to attend college. Unfortunately, students often have financial needs that exceed their aid packages. Program participants are encouraged to apply for the Guardian Scholars Achievement Scholarship and are made aware of many other scholarship and funding opportunities unique to their circumstances.

    Please Note:

    The Guardian Scholars is primarily a student-support program/service, and not solely a scholarship opportunity. Program scholarships are awarded on an annual basis through a competitive application process open to those students who are program participants.

    Family at graduation
    We rely on the generosity of donors to fund our program scholarships. If you would like to speak more about one-time, repeating or planned gifts to the Guardian Scholars, please reach out to us any time.

    The Guardian Scholars program is designed with intention to have flexibility in the supportive measures provided. Due to the variable nature of student needs and program funding, it is difficult to give a concise description of the many additional incentives and benefits that are received by program participants.

    With that said, some examples of miscellaneous program incentives include:

    • Personal messages of encouragement
    • Awards and recognition
    • Gift cards for specific needs, like emergency transportation
    • Care packages
    • Speaking and leadership opportunities
    • Random gifts
    • Employment and scholarship leads
    • Access to the Guardian Guide Network

    This is an ever changing list. We work hard to stay attuned to current program trends and be able to respond nimbly to student needs. We also welcome ideas from program supporters and donors with passion projects.


    Prospective Students

    The Guardian Scholars program is for students who:

    • Are enrolled at Ball State as an undergraduate student; and,
    • Had an open foster care case at or above the age of 13; or,
    • Experienced foster care at any age and show current evidence of serious and chronic deficits in familial support


    Program Structure

    Guardian Scholars program participation is voluntary. In order to serve students with varying levels of need and to honor their personal agency, we have structured our program to function in three ways:

    Program Participant Button

    Program participants are those eligible students looking for maximum program benefit. They must be full-time, main campus students and express the intention of maintaining communication with the Guardian Scholars. Program participants commit to attending the program activities that are relevant to their needs. The benefits of program participation include:

    • regularly scheduled coaching meetings 
    • invitations to all program seminars & events
    • program scholarship eligibility

    Program Affiliate button

    Program affiliates are typically our online or part-time students! Some traditional students also choose to hold an affiliate status if they wish to have less frequent program contact, but maintain accountability. Program affiliates:

    • hold occasional coaching meetings
    • have their academic progress continuously monitored to anticipate supportive interventions
    • receive invitations to program seminars

    Student Service button

    This category of support is entirely student driven. Our eligible students who do not wish to have any ongoing affiliation with the Guardian Scholars can self-initiate supportive services at any time. These students schedule coaching meetings on an as needed basis and do not maintain consistent communication with the program. 

    Join Guardian Scholars 

    All eligible students wishing to engage with the Guardian Scholars program should submit this Program Admissions Form.*  Please be prepared to share some information about your foster care history and current living/family situation. You will also be asked to write a personal statement (short essay) including your academic and/or career goals. If you have documentation verifying your Department of Child Services (DCS) case history, there is an opportunity to upload supporting documents. 

    Once your admissions form is received, you will contacted by program staff to schedule an eligibility screening if one is needed. Program orientation occurs during move-in week for 1st year students, or during coaching meetings as needed. Please contact Bria Zolman, Guardian Scholars Program Manager at or 765-285-5538 with any questions regarding program eligibility or admission to the Guardian Scholars program.

    *Please note that you must be an admitted Ball State student before you will be able to access this form.

    Who can utilize the Guardian Scholars program? 

    Any undergraduate Ball State student who experienced foster care in their teens; 

    OR any undergraduate Ball State student who experienced foster care in their lifetime and shows current evidence of serious, chronic deficits in familial support. 

    "Experienced foster care" is defined as having had Department of Child Services (DCS) case interventions of any placement type including but not limited to a foster home, residential facility, kinship care placement, or group home with any type of case resolution (reunification, adoption, aging out). 

    What is required of me by the program?

    Nothing. This is a voluntary program intended to increase belongingness and promote self-advocacy skills through access to supportive services. When you face obstacles on campus, we want to help. We want to celebrate with you and provide a community of support. We want to provide you opportunities to lead and advocate on campus. Having years of data to pull from, we will provide recommendations for best maximizing your experience in the program, but we work together in determining which supports are needed and desired by you!

    How much time does full program participation take?

    Depending on the week, students typically spend 0-3 hours attending program related activities. Many students prefer to meet with their campus coach weekly or biweekly. We also offer a selection of seminars and program events that you are invited to attend! We encourage you to attend those elements of support that are relevant to you. 

    What does it mean to be a program affiliate?

    Eligible students who are attending Ball State either part-time or online only; or full-time students who desire lower levels of program participation are considered program affiliates. Affiliates receive the benefit of a campus coach for academic mentoring and financial aid assistance. They are also invited to program seminars. This is a great option for students who anticipate needing some additional accountability and support from time to time, but who aren't interested in the holistic support measures full program participation entails. 

    Does every Guardian Scholar student receive a program scholarship?

    No, but every program participant is eligible to apply for a program scholarship annually in the spring. Once awarded the Guardian Scholars program scholarship is a $2,500 annual scholarship which is renewable for up to 4 years. There is a competitive application process which takes into account the students academic performance, program engagement and financial need as determined by the Ball State Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. Program affiliates are not eligible to apply for the program scholarship. 

    I experienced foster care, but I'm not interested in your program. Can I still get support if I need it?

    Please do! We totally understand that not every young person exiting foster care wants or needs the services being offered in the Guardian Scholars. But if you are facing barriers that are effecting your ability to pass your classes or afford your tuition, we hope you will still reach out. You can initiate contact with our office at any time for support on an "as needed" basis with no strings attached. We're at or 765-285-5538. You can also drop by our office in the Multicultural Center, MC 206.