Now more than ever, families may need assistance to support their choice for the education that best suits their child. Luckily, here in Florida there are many options for scholarships for students of school age.
In 2001, the Florida Legislature created the income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program to assure that lower-income children have more learning options. In May 2019, nearly 20 years later, the Family Empowerment Scholarship was created by the Florida Legislature to further help lower-income children.
Both scholarships are based on financial need, and income qualification is based on the last 30 days. If you have had a drop in income due to the pandemic, you are encouraged to apply. The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) allows families to choose between financial assistance toward private school tuition and fees, OR with transportation costs to attend a public school other than the one the student is assigned to attend. The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) may only be used towards private school tuition and fees. You can apply at http://www.stepupforstudents.org
Florida Tax Credit Eligibility Criteria:
- Students entering Kindergarten must be 5 on or before Sept. 1.
- Students entering first grade must be 6 on or before Sept.1.
- If a member of the household receives SNAP (food stamps), TANF, or FDPIR, the student may qualify.
- If the household income qualifies for free or reduce-priced lunch, the student may qualify.
- If the household income is at/or below the income chart found in the chart below titled “Eligibility Chart”, the student may qualify.
- Additional FES criteria:
- The student is eligible to enroll in kindergarten or has spent the prior school year in attendance at a Florida public school. Prior attendance means the student was enrolled in and attended a Florida public school during both the October and February student counts.
- Both FTC and FES applicants only need to income qualify 1 time, rather than re-qualify each year.
You can find the elgibility chart here. Remember, only documentation for the last 30 days is required to qualify. If your income has lowered due to the pandemic, you are encouraged to apply now to secure funds for the upcoming school year, and year thereafter.
In addition to income based scholarships, there are scholarships for unique abilites as well.
The Gardiner Scholarship program helps parents individualize the educational plans for their children with certain special needs was named the Gardiner Scholarship in January of 2016. The name honors Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, who led the legislative effort to create the program, and his family.
A different kind of scholarship: The Gardiner Scholarship is different than other state scholarships in that it allows parents to personalize the education of their children with unique abilities by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers. These include schools, therapists, specialists, curriculum, technology – even a college savings account.
This scholarship is for Florida students 3 years old through 12th grade or age 22, whichever comes first, with one of the following disabilities: Autism spectrum disorder, Muscular dystrophy, Cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Phelan McDermid syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Spina bifida, Williams syndrome, Intellectual disability (severe cognitive impairment), rare diseases as defined by the National Organization for Rare Disorders, (such as PANDAS), anaphylaxis, deaf, visually impaired, dual sensory impaired, traumatic brain injured, hospital or homebound as defined by the rules of the State Board of Education and evidenced by reports from local school districts, or three, four or five year-olds who are deemed high-risk due to developmental delays.
You can apply at http://www.stepupforstudents.org
Also for special abilities there is the McKay Scholarship. The McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, originally created in 1999, provides scholarships for eligible students with disabilities to attend an eligible public or private school of their choice. Students with disabilities include K-12 students who are documented as having an intellectual disability; a speech or language impairment; a hearing impairment, including deafness; a visual impairment, including blindness; a dual sensory impairment; an orthopedic impairment, an other health impairment, an emotional or behavioral disability; a specific learning disability, including, but not limited to, dyslexia, dyscalculia, or developmental aphasia; a traumatic brain injury; a developmental delay; or autism spectrum disorder.
Any parent of a public school student with a disability who has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 accommodation plan may receive a McKay Scholarship if the student meets the following requirements:
- The student has spent the prior school year in attendance at a Florida public school (the student was enrolled and reported by a Florida school district for funding during the preceding October and February FTE surveys in Pre-K through grade 12), or
- The student received services under the Specialized Instructional Services (SIS) program during the previous school year and has a current IEP developed by the local school board in accordance with State Board Rule or a 504 accommodation plan
Mangrove School of Sarasota is proud to participate in all of these programs; every child should have the opportunity to have the education that is the best fit for them. Now accepting students for 2020-21, preschool through high school.