The McKay Scholarship

The McKay Scholarship is an initiative funded by the State of Florida to provide financial assistance to parents with special needs children. We have provided a list of freqently asked questions about the McKay Scholarship below; for more information please contact us or go to the State of Florida's web site.

Frequently Asked Questions about the McKay Scholarship

Who is eligible for the McKay Scholarships Program?

In order to be eligible for the McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, a student must have attended a public school for the prior year and must have an Individual Education Plan (IEP).

What choices are available under the McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program?

Eligible students with disabilities may:

  • Remain at their assigned school;
  • Attend another public school within the same district;
  • Attend an approved public school in an adjacent district (parent or guardian must provide transportation); or
  • Attend a participating private school.

Can a student who is already in a private school receive a McKay Scholarship?

No, the current law requires that a student must have been enrolled and in attendance in a Florida public school during the October and February FTE surveys from the previous school year.

Are private schools forced to participate in the McKay Scholarships Program or required to accept students they are not trained or equipped to help?

No, the state may not force any private school to participate in this program. Florida law does not license or regulate private schools. The McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program is a parent choice program, which provides options for parents who are dissatisfied in their assigned public school. The Department of Education is not authorized by law to force a private school to accept a student the school cannot serve.

Is the local school district required to provide transportation to the private school chosen by the parent under the McKay Scholarships Program?

No, districts are not required to provide or otherwise pay for transportation for scholarship students enrolled in private schools. Transportation should be a consideration when deciding on participation. Some private schools may include transportation fees in their regular tuition costs. Public transportation costs (city bus, taxi) are not allowable expenses under the McKay Scholarship Program.

How much is the McKay Scholarship worth?

The scholarship is equal to the amount of state generated funding the student would have received or the cost of the private school's tuition and fees, whichever is less. The scholarship will be paid in four payments: September 1, November 1, February 1, and April 15.

What if I decide that the private school we have chosen under the McKay Scholarship Program does not meet my child's needs?

The McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program is a parent choice program. If you find another participating private school that can better accommodate your child's needs, inform the Florida Department of Education or your local school district of your decision, and they will assist you in transferring your child to another private school.

Are pre-kindergarten children eligible to receive a McKay Scholarship?

No, Pre-K students are not eligible for the program. Only students in grades K-12 are eligible to receive the scholarship. A Kindergarten student is eligible only if the student is repeating Kindergarten.

Are students identified as gifted eligible for the McKay Scholarship?

No, gifted students are not eligible for the McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program. Only students with disabilities are eligible for this scholarship program.

What kinds of disabilities are identified as eligible for the McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities?

Students with disabilities include K-12 students who are mentally handicapped, speech and language impaired, deaf or hard-of-hearing, visually impaired, dual sensory impaired, physically impaired, emotionally handicapped, specific learning disabled, hospitalized or homebound, or autistic.

"It's okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are our teachers -- they help us to learn."
-- John Bradshaw

   The Gardiner Scholarship Program

The Gardiner Scholarship Program provides eligible students a scholarship that can be used to purchase approved services or products in order to design a customized educational program for the student. Scholarships can be used for specialized services such as speech or occupational therapy, instructional materials, tuition at an eligible private school, contributions to a college prepaid account and more. 

Click here for more information about the Gardiner Scholarship