When deciding on a school for a typical child parents have a multitude of options. Many parents use public schools but also use magnet and charter programs with in the public system. Still traditional parents use private schools and home school options. When trying to make decisions for my special needs child regarding school and education, I completely feel like I need a financial adviser!
How do families decide which scholarship is best for their child with special needs? I swear we need a full worksheet/flow chart with which options are the best for each individual case. I am personally torn as to whether we should switch to Gardiner Scholarship from McKay. The Gardiner is $10,000 our current McKay is less than that. But what happens if I give up the McKay? Can I get it back? How? If I go to Gardiner am I gambling with the school that we currently have? Would I be limiting my options or broadening my options to educate my child?
Then thinking about life after school, how long or to what age can we continue to receive money? Thinking long-term, we are asking questions about where my son will live and where he will work, how will we continue to meet his medical needs. A financial adviser can definitely help me save money to prepare for those expenses later in life but who can help guide me financially now with the best scholarship option for my children?
Let’s go over the options:
Florida Tax credit scholarship (FTC)
*These options cannot be combined, choose one.
The Mckay basics: have IEP, request a matrix score, submit an application, wait for award determination, find a school, dollar amounts vary by need/accommodations written in IEP
The Gardiner basics: must have specific medical diagnosis, no IEP is needed, award amount is at least $10,000, limited scholarships granted, money flexible for school, therapy and other needs, find a school that accepts scholarship
FTC basics: completely income related and based on family size, amount of scholarship is percentage like a 100% scholarship, 80%, 66% and 50%. The total amount also varies based on grade level. They also give priority scholarships to renewal families and highest income need first. Check the income requirements on their website.
Look at your options and find what will work best with your needs and start applying now. Watch your Mckay intent! DON’T file intent, YET! Wait until your final IEP meeting has been conducted to try to increase your award amount. Think about using an advocate to help you if you don’t have one now. Every dollar matters in our world of access to education and therapy; choose wisely.
Comment with any questions for advise and suggestions!