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More than 5,000 South Carolina families apply for education scholarships


(The Center Square) — More than 5,000 families from all 46 South Carolina counties have submitted applications for the state’s Education Scholarship Trust Fund.

The state is accepting applications until Friday.

“We are thrilled to see the excitement and interest from South Carolina parents in the Education Scholarship Trust Fund program,” Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver said in a statement.

According to the education department, nearly half (47%) of applicants self-reported as Black or African American, while about a third (31%) are White, and 6% said they are Hispanic. The remaining 16% identified as multi-racial or did not provide optional demographic data.

Applicants for Kindergarten through the fifth grade made up more than half (58%) of the applications, while sixth grade through eighth grade (22%) and ninth grade through 12th grade (20%) both made up about a fifth of the applications.

In May 2023, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signed Senate Bill 39, the Educational Scholarship Trust Fund Act, to create the program. The state is awarding 5,000 scholarships — $6,000 each — for the 2024-25 school year, and state officials have expressed interest in expanding the program.

Recipients can use the money for educational expenses, including tuition, textbooks, tutoring, online courses, inter-district transfer fees at traditional public schools, and educational therapies.

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 five years old between Sept. 2, 2023, and Sept. 1.

Additionally, a family’s household income cannot exceed 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. For example, a family of four with an annual income at or below $62,400 would qualify.

Approved applicants will receive their first $1,500 quarterly payment in late July 2024.

Separately, Americans for Prosperity-South Carolina launched a six-figure campaign to push school choice.

House Bill 5164 would expand the Education Savings Account program and include universal eligibility for South Carolina families by the 2026-27 school year. Last week, the House Education and Public Works Committee favorably reported the measure.

“Families across South Carolina deserve to be in the driver seat of their child’s education despite their zip code, economic circumstance, or learner’s unique capabilities,” AFP-SC State Director Candace Carroll said in a statement.