In North Carolina, parents of students with disabilities may be eligible for financial aid through the Disabilities Grant program, Opportunity Scholarship Program and/or the Educational Savings Account.
Disabilities Grant Program
The Disabilities Grant program was created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013 and is administered by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA). This program offers financial assistance to parents of eligible students enrolled in participating nonpublic schools. This assistance may cover costs of tuition, special education services and educational technology. Currently, grants of up to $8,000 are awarded per student per year.
Eligible students must meet all these requirements:
- is a resident of North Carolina
- is at least 5 years old but younger than 22 years old on or before August 31
- is entering a grade no lower than kindergarten
- does not have a high school diploma or its equivalent
- has a disability requiring special education and one that is documented by a public school IEP (individual education program)
- is enrolled in an approved eligible school or home school
- received special education services at least 75 days of the semester during which the parent seeks tuition reimbursement
Eligible students must meet at least one of these requirements:
- received a disabilities grant the preceding year
- was a full-time student attending a North Carolina public school for at least 75 days of the preceding spring semester
- is entering kindergarten or first grade
- has a parent in the Active Uniformed Service
- has lived in North Carolina for at least six months at the time of the application
Parents apply for the grant by going to www.ncseaa.edu and completing the application online. Applications for the following school year are available May 1. Because eligible students are considered on a first-come, first-served basis, parents are encouraged to apply as soon as they can.
Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities Program
The Opportunity Scholarship Program, also created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013 and administered through NCSEAA, awards scholarships of up to $4,200 per year to eligible students who attend an eligible nonpublic school. The awards are based on families’ financial need and selected from a lottery.
Applications for scholarships become available online February 1. The deadline for applying for a scholarship is March 1. The eligibility criteria for the scholarship is similar to the criteria for a disability grant.
Personal Education Savings Account
Authorized in 2017, North Carolina’s Personal Education Savings Account program provides money to some students with special needs and can be used to pay for different educational services. Money from this program can be used with money awarded from the Disabilities Grant Program and the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Money granted for educational expenses, such as tuition in a nonpublic school, may be up to $9,000 per year. Applications become available online February 1.
To qualify, a student must have a disability requiring special education and one that is documented by a public school IEP (individual education program). Other criteria for eligibility are listed on their website.
Here is the contact information to learn more about these three financial aid programs: