For parents who may not have the money to spare for their child’s ideal education, there are a few options for financial assistance. The Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES UA) is a branch of the Florida State K-12 scholarship program that was recently expanded on May 1st, 2021. This expansion saw the previous McKay Scholarship Program combine with the new FES UA program. With these changes and the overall expansion, there is a lot of new information for parents to learn. Here’s a quick overview of the FES UA.

The FES UA is funded by the Florida Department of Education in order to help families pay not just for public school, but also private school. The Unique Abilities branch is specifically for parents of children as young as three who have disabilities diagnosed by a physician or psychologist. When used to help pay for private school tuition, this scholarship is placed in a state-controlled bank account known as an Educational Savings Account (ESA) and assigned to the parents of the child. 

This scholarship isn’t only for paying for K-12 tuition. The FES UA can also be used to pay for tutoring, online courses, and even community college courses! In order to obtain the scholarship, parents must apply and renew annually through one of two Scholarship Funding Organizations: the AAA Scholarship Foundation in Tampa, and Step Up For Students in Jacksonville. Both of these organizations have websites available for easy access, as well as physical locations to apply at. 

So what exactly does the FES UA do for you and your child? This scholarship allows families to give their child the best chance of success in education, no matter what disabilities they may have. Parents do not have to worry about affording tuition at private schools, or additional fees that may come with enrolling into public school. It also allows for parents to personalize their child’s education by allowing them the freedom of choosing the best private school available for their specific needs.

The next question is, who exactly can apply for the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Unique Abilities? The requirements may not be as exclusive as you may think. In order to apply for the Unique Abilities branch of the FES, the child must meet one or of the following:

  • the child was previously a recipient of the Gardiner Scholarship Program
  • the child has a qualifying diagnosis by a physician or psychologist or has an Individualized Education Plan
  • AND the child must be 3 or 4 years old by September 1st and/or otherwise eligible to enroll in K-12 schooling.

The Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students With Unique Abilities is a wonderful opportunity funded by the state of Florida, and a great push forward for families across the state. Money and disabilities should never be a barrier for any child to pursue an education, and fortunately the FES UA is there to knock down any walls families may face.