Gov. McMaster opts to use most of his education relief funds to help families pay for private school tuition

Updated: Jul. 20, 2020 at 8:42 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Governor Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) announced a new grant program that would help families cover tuition costs for private schools.

PREVIOUS STORY Ι McMaster to use $32M in education relief funds for school-choice grants

The Governor announced the program at Hampton Park Christian School in Greenville with other lawmakers, families, and school staff.

Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants, as McMaster is calling them, will allow parents to send their children to an independent school in South Carolina. The grants will only be available for the 2020-21 school year.

He wants to use up to $32 million for the grants. The money is coming from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. This fund was created by the CARES Act. McMaster said the money should provide for about 5,000 grants to students.

"This is a way we can support private schools and other schools and continue education for these children," Gov. McMaster said.

The SAFE Grants are available to students in K-12th grade. It can be used to cover tuition and other fees including transportation costs. This could be used at eligible South Carolina independent schools. The grants can go up to $6,500 per student.

Gov. McMaster said, "There are a lot of people who'd like to come to this school and others like it who simply can't afford it."

South Carolina families with a household income of 300% or less of the federal poverty level eligible. For example, a family of four with an income of $78,600 or less can apply.

Critics of the new program said this money would better serve South Carolinians by being used for public schools.

South Carolina Education Association President Sherry East said, “We’ve asked for help. We need social workers, mental health counselors. We need things to keep us safe so we can go back to school and you choose to send your money to different folks.”

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