Education: McKay Scholarships


McKay Scholarships

For which disability is this relevant?

Intellectual disability; speech or language impairment; hearing impairment, including deafness; visual impairment, including blindness; dual sensory impairment; orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, emotional or behavioral disability; specific learning disability, including, but not limited to, dyslexia, dyscalculia, or developmental aphasia; traumatic brain injury; developmental delay; or autism spectrum disorder

For which age group is this relevant?

5 -22, who are enrolled in school. The student must be 5 years old by September 1st of the school year in which he or she intends to use the scholarship.

The McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program provides scholarships for eligible students with disabilities to attend an eligible public or private school of their choice. Eligible students include students who have been issued an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Accommodation Plan that is effective for more than 6 months. A student with disabilities must have been either enrolled and reported for funding in a Florida public school during the previous school year’s October and February Florida Education Finance Program surveys, or reported by the Office of Early Learning as receiving services through the Specialized Instructional Services program. Eligible students may attend a different public school in their own district, or a public school in a neighboring district if space is available. Transportation may be provided for eligible students.

How does this help the person with a disability or family support system?

The John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program allows parents of students with disabilities to choose the best academic environment for their children. This program provides eligible students the opportunity to attend a participating private school or transfer to another public school.

How may a parent/caregiver gain access to a McKay Scholarship?

Parents may file intent to participate in the McKay Scholarship Program by going here. If additional assistance is needed, parents may contact the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice at 1-800-447-1636.

Military families being stationed in Florida may request a waiver for the attendance requirement within a year of relocating to Florida. The waiver and a copy of the Permanent Change of Station Orders must accompany the request. To apply, complete this form Click Here and send to the Florida Dept of Education McKay Scholarship office with a copy of the Permanent Change of Station Orders. A copy of the student’s IEP or 504 plan needs to be sent to the school district McKay office for the county in which you will be residing. For Palm Beach County contact the ESE Dept. McKay Scholarship Program at 561-649-6818. Deadlines apply regarding the amount of funding the child may be eligible for in the first year.

If you are the foster parent of a child with an IEP or 504 plan and are unable to file intent by the usual method, please use this form Click Here. Additional documentation will be required; contact The Florida Dept of Education’s McKay Scholarship office at 800-447-1636 for more information.

Questions or observations recommended to parents to investigate before selecting a different school?

Generally, the right school for you will be the school that most closely reflects the values and routines you have established at home. By collecting information, talking to other parents, visiting schools and exercising your rights responsibly, you are assuring that your child receives a quality education. When visiting schools, take your child with you; observing how your child interacts in the setting will be beneficial in the decision making process.

Non-public school educational programs are not regulated, controlled, approved, or accredited by the Florida Department of Education.  The Florida Dept. of Education provides a website Click Here, with a list of considerations when choosing a private school. Here are some of the questions suggested to ask when visiting private schools:

  • Does the purpose and philosophy of the school meet the needs of the child?
  • Do all teachers and administrators hold a four year college or university degree?
  • Does the school have a good relationship between teachers, administrators and with parents?
  • Is there evidence of strong leadership in the school as reflected in the general cleanliness of the school, by the appearance and attitudes of the students, and the availability to answer questions of parents?
  • What testing programs are used to measure student progress? How do student results compare to other schools and with national and statewide norms?
  • There are many accrediting organizations for private schools and many private schools that are not accredited at all. It is wise to check with the college, university, or prospective employers to determine whether or not they accept diplomas and transcripts from a specific private school.
  • What is the financial stability of the school?
  • What are the policies and practices concerning tuition payments?
  • What are the expectations of student conduct?
  • What are the methods of communication between home and school?

Recommended websites, YouTube videos, books on this topic? Choosing a private school: Click Here for more information. McKay Scholarship Frequently Asked Questions webpage: Click Here For the McKay Scholarship Parent page Click Here (includes links to application) To learn more about your child’s educational options, please contact Palm Beach County’s Parental Choice Office at 561-649-6818 or for the ESE Dept.’s webpage for McKay Scholarships Click Here. You may also contact the Florida Department of Education, Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice Information Hotline at 1-800-447-1636, or Click Here for the McKay Scholarships page on the School Choice website.

To learn more about the various state school choice scholarship opportunities Click Here


Florida department of education. Choosing a private school.

Florida department of education. McKay Scholarship.

School district of palm beach county. McKay scholarship.

Written by: Iris Neil