Do you have a child that needs money for a specialized school?
Many states have scholarships for children with special needs or families with low income. I always thought my kids would all go to the same school and that that school would be our zoned public school. My husband and I both attended public school and have or do work in education. Now, we are those parents who work (or worked) in education but send their own children to private school. I am so happy with my school choices and how we have been able to use scholarship money to cover almost all of the cost.
Did you know that private education from K to 8th grade could easily cost you $100,000!
In Florida, we have income based scholarships and special needs scholarship options.
My son has autism, that makes him eligible for the MacKay Scholarship and the Gardiner Scholarship. The MacKay eligibility comes from having an IEP (Individual Education Plan) and attending public school for at least 1 year. We did that in pre-k three and four (VPK) and had an IEP. It is your special education funding that would be allocated for the public school; you are allowed to take those funds to another school. That could be another public school, charter school or private school. It gives parents choice as to what learning environment is best or least restrictive.
We were put into a situation where we had a school for autism close in September. We had to move to a private school in October after the first quarter. We were so thankful to be able to transfer our McKay (state) funds to the new private school. Our scholarship is able to cover the tuition. Our health insurance then covers the cost of his therapy. The small setting of the private school and their willingness to work with our therapy company allows my son to get the one on one support that he needed to learn. In the public school, we could not get my son a one on one aid to assist in the classroom.
We will plan to examine moving to the Gardiner scholarship next year as we have to constantly evaluate our insurance coverage. If we have to change insurances then we could lose coverage or have limits on hours of therapy each week. We would then need the additional scholarship money from Gardiner to cover that therapy need.
I recommend: first find a school then find out what scholarships they accept. Start looking into the requirements of those scholarships and apply.
My typical daughter attended private school for kindergarten. We have made the decision to enroll for next year and will continue to attend the school as long as it meets her needs.
We decided that the public school was not meeting her needs when she was in pre-k. She needed more attention and higher expectations and as we pushed at home; the teacher’s response was
she’ll be fine!
Well, fine wasn’t in the descriptions of what we wanted our daughter to have in her education experience. We wanted our daughter to be challenged and loved. Have a teacher that cared but pushed her to learn.
We started searching for private schools that used a different curriculum than the public school and that if she was behind or ahead of the class/ material that she would continue to be challenged. Once we found a school and did the shadow day, we then started asking about the scholarship options. We applied for the Step Up for Students scholarship and the AAA Scholarship for our daughter. We were able to claim our baby which made us a family of five. That bump from a family of four to five was enough to move us into a different income bracket and we were able to qualify for the scholarship. The Step Up for Students has a scale…so you can earn a partial scholarship! I suggest looking into this income based scholarship if you do not have the IEP/504 or medical diagnosis to get a special needs scholarship.
This scholarship money will pay almost all of our tuition. We then make monthly payments over the year to cover the balance.
This year kindergarten did not end as we would have all wanted but for my daughter she grew and changed with the challenges and love that her teachers gave her. She read 101 books in 2nd semester. 80 of the books were read while we were in quarantine! It is truly amazing how much a child can love school when the environment is conducive to growth of the whole child.
Although, my children do not attend the same school; each school is amazing and has it’s own best qualities. They are both different and offer unique experience for school.
We finally believe that we have found the school for each of our children and we have the scholarship money for both.
I recommend: When it comes to making a big school change and having to find financial support and scholarships; always have an open conversation with your school. You may be surprised at how and what they can do to help you manage your enrollment and scholarships.
Florida is unique in that we do have multiple scholarship options for families. However, most states do have alternative funding requests, scholarships or grants that you can look into to help change your school. Visit your states department of education page and search for scholarships/grants/funding/charter/private school options. Need help: email me!
More on scholarships and helping your special needs child find their best learning environment coming next week!