SCDE Provides Update on Education Scholarship Trust Fund Program

<strong>SCDE Provides Update on Education Scholarship Trust Fund Program</strong>

Demographic data shows families in all 46 counties have submitted an application

COLUMBIA, S.C. – With less than 10 days until the application deadline, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) is encouraging eligible South Carolina families to submit an application for the Education Scholarship Trust Fund (ESTF) program. The deadline to apply is March 15, 2024.So far, families from all 46 South Carolina counties have submitted over 5,000 applications for their students.Approximately 47% of applicants self-reported as Black or African American, 31% as White, 6% as Hispanic, and 16% as multi-racial or elected not to provide the optional demographic data. Applicants for Kindergarten through Fifth Grade made up approximately 58% of applications, 22% for Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade, and 20% for Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade.In May 2023, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed the Educational Scholarship Trust Fund Act establishing the program. Through the ESTF program, South Carolina families can customize their child’s education.Parents can use these scholarships for a variety of educational expenses. Families can use the funds to pay for tuition, textbooks, curriculum, and educational materials, as well as for tutoring, online courses, individual courses or interdistrict transfer fees at traditional public schools, and a wide range of educational therapies including speech, physical, occupational and vision.The law provides for a $6,000 scholarship for up to 5,000 qualifying South Carolina students for the 2024-2025 school year.“We are thrilled to see the excitement and interest from South Carolina parents in the Education Scholarship Trust Fund program,” said Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver. “We are grateful that the General Assembly and Governor McMaster recognize the importance of empowering parents with the ability to truly customize their child’s education.” To be eligible, students must be residents of South Carolina AND have attended a South Carolina public school during the previous school year OR turn age 5 from 9/2/23 through 9/1/24. A family’s household income must also not exceed 200% of thefederal poverty guidelines. For example, a family of four with an annual income at or below $62,400 would qualify.Because the program administrators are still processing applications, it is possible some applications will be found to be ineligible. Even though 5,000 applications have been received, it is still possible that new applicants will ultimately be awarded a scholarship. Because of this, SCDE encourages all eligible and interested families to continue to apply.Approved applicants will receive their first quarterly payment of $1,500 in late July 2024. You can find more information on the ESTF program here.