McKay Parent Responsibilities
The McKay Scholarship Program is a parental choice program for Florida public school students. The first step in applying for a McKay Scholarship for your child is to file intent to participate in the program prior to withdrawing your student from public school.
Parents choosing the public school option of the McKay Scholarship Program are responsible for contacting the school district for further information on available public school options.
Parents choosing the private school option of the McKay Scholarship Program are responsible for the following:
- Understanding that the intent for a McKay Scholarship must be filed at least 60 days prior to the date of the first scholarship payment. The table below illustrates important dates regarding filing intent and receiving payments;
- File by July 3 for September 1 payment.(100% of scholarship amount)
- File by September 2 for November 1 payment.
(75% of scholarship amount)
- File by December 3 for February 1 payment.
(50% of scholarship amount)
- File by January 31 for April 1 payment.
(25% of scholarship amount)
- Checking your child's intent and eligibility status;
- Selecting a participating private school;
- Knowing the scholarship award amount for your child;
- Complying with and having your child comply with the private school's published policies;
- Keeping your child in attendance at a participating private school throughout the school year unless excused by the school for illness or other good cause; and
- Providing transportation for your child if you would like for him/her to participate in statewide assessments.
The scholarship shall remain in effect until the student:
- Returns to a public school;
- Graduates from high school, or
- Reaches the age of 22, whichever occurs first.
A student in a private school McKay Scholarship can return to a public school using the McKay Scholarship public school option; however, the parent must notify the district prior to doing so. The school district will determine what public school options are available to the student after receiving the request. A student who exercises this choice will need to reestablish eligibility by being in an October and February student survey before being eligible again for the private school option of the McKay Scholarship.
A student is not eligible for a McKay Scholarship while he or she is:
- Enrolled in a Department Juvenile Justice commitment program;
- Receiving another state scholarship (including the Florida Tax Credit or Gardiner Scholarship);
- Participating in a home education or private tutoring program;
- Participating in more than two courses per school year in a virtual school, correspondence school, or distance learning program that receives state funding;
- Enrolled in the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind; or
- Not having regular and direct contact with his or her private school teachers at the school's physical location.
Scholarship Payment Information
We highly encourage you to take an active part in selecting an appropriate school for your child and completing the necessary follow-up steps for your child's enrollment. You should be aware of your child’s scholarship amount and should review your child’s fee schedule to see how the funds are being applied. Parents are responsible for paying any tuition or fees above the allowed scholarship funding amount. Payments under the McKay Scholarship Program can only be made if parental intent and a student fee schedule have both been submitted by the appropriate deadlines. Please take note of the deadlines for private schools to submit student documentation as listed below under Private School Responsibilities.
In order to ensure timely payment, the Department of Education must begin processing student scholarships at least 3 weeks prior to the payment deadline. Payments will be issued based on the student's enrollment information at that time. If you choose to withdraw and/or transfer your child to another private school during the 3 week processing period, you must notify the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice as soon as possible.
A parent who is transferring a child to another private school should not take a check from one private school and endorse it to the new private school. The scholarship calculation was based on the original private school's tuition and fees and may not be accurate for another private school.
The Department of Education is authorized to make one payment per student per quarter and is not authorized to make any partial or retroactive payments. Upon endorsing a warrant to the private school, the parent and the private school validate that the quarterly payment amount is correct. Any discrepancies thereafter shall be resolved between the parent and the private school. In addition, the IRS has determined that acceptance of a scholarship under this program is not considered personal family income.
In general, a school district must:
- Notify parents of disabled students about the McKay Scholarship Program by April 1 of each school year and within 10 days of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting or a 504 accommodation plan being issued.
- Inform parents of the availability of the Information Hotline and School Choice website address.
- Keep all district contact information up-to-date with the department. This can be done through the www.floridaschoolchoice.org website when logged in as a district administrator.
- Submit an annual Parental Notification Verification Form to the Department of Education (distributed via paperless in the spring of each school year).
For students applying for a McKay Scholarship, a school district must:
- Offer parents an opportunity to enroll their child in another public school within their district if the parent requests information on the McKay public school option.
- For a student with an IEP, complete a matrix within 30 days of the parent's filed intent date that assignes the student to one of the levels of service as they existed prior to the 2000-2001 school year. A school district must notify parents, within 10 days of a filed intent, if a matrix has not been completed, and inform parents that the required matrix completion date is 30 days after a filed intent.
- For a student with a 504 accommodation plan, within 30 days of the parent's filed intent date submit 504 plan funding based on the program cost factor the student currently generates through the Florida Education Finance Program.
For an eligible student participating in the McKay Scholarship Program at a private school, a school district must:
- Change a matrix of services only for a technical, typographical, or calculation error.
- Provide locations and times, if requested, for any McKay scholarship student attending a private school within the district to take statewide assessment exams.
- Provide re-evaluation notifications to parents of scholarship students with IEPs at least once every 3 years.
- Confirm scholarship students have not enrolled in public school by completing the District Enrollment Verification files quarterly prior to scholarship payments.
- Report students that receive McKay Scholarship funding as 3518 which designates them as McKay Private school students on the FTE survey.
- Notify the Department of Education if a student enrolls in public school, is registered as a home education student, or is committed to a DJJ commitment program.
For an eligible student participating in the McKay Scholarship Program public option, a school district must:
- Provide transportation to the public school selected by the parent if the choice is consistent with the district's school choice plan under s. 1002.31.
- Accept a McKay student from an adjacent district if there is a program in place that provides the services agreed to in the student's IEP or 504 accommodation plan.
- Accept a student from the private McKay option with reasonable notice.
- Report students in the FTE survey as McKay Public.
The responsibilities of a participating private school under the McKay Scholarship Program can be found here.