Like any other university student, Aisha Aberdeen is anxious to graduate.

She’ll be entering her final year at the University of Toronto in September, where she has been studying forestry and Caribbean studies.

But unlike other students whose undergrad years may have been filled with dorm parties, spring break trips and summer internships, Aberdeen has had a more difficult path to her degree.

“I’ve taken a bit longer than most students,” she says.

Aberdeen is 27 and a single mom. When she was just 14 she arrived from Trinidad, and less than four months later was placed as a Crown ward with the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.

She left her foster home at 16 and dropped out of high school soon after.

Aberdeen’s path is typical for the roughly 18,000 children in Ontario being cared for by children’s aid societies.

Less than half of foster children complete high school by age 21, and less than a quarter of those go on to post-secondary education. By contrast, 75 per cent of Ontario youth finish high school and 40 per cent get a post-secondary education, says the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.

However, Aberdeen is on her way to defy the statistics with some much-needed financial help. She is one of the more than 100 young people in current or past foster care who yesterday received more than $200,000 in scholarships from the Hope for Children Foundation. Aberdeen will get $2,000 this year to help with tuition.

Mary Bowyer, executive director of the foundation, said the financial assistance from their privately raised charity is critical for youth who are forced, by provincial legislation, to leave care at 18, jeopardizing their chances of saving money for a post-secondary education.