Skip to Content
McKay Scholarships

The McKay transition to FES: FAQs

Effective July 1, 2022, the McKay Scholarship Program will join the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program under the Unique Abilities category (FES UA).

House Bill 7045, signed into law in May 2021, expanded eligibility in the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program to include students with disabilities. Effective July 1, 2022, students currently participating in the McKay Scholarship Program will join the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program under the Unique Abilities category (FES UA).

The Family Empowerment Scholarship was created in 2019 to provide scholarships to students from families with limited financial means. In 2021, House Bill 7045 expanded the program to include two branches of eligibility, the income-based Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES EO) and the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES UA).

The law that originally created the McKay Scholarship Program is repealed as of June 30, 2022. Effective July 1, 2022, students participating in the McKay Scholarship Program will join the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program under the Unique Abilities category (FES UA).

As has been the case with the McKay Scholarship, FES UA scholarship amounts are based on the Florida Education Finance Program budget established each year by the legislature, and are calculated in relation to the student’s grade level, matrix level, and school district. There may be variation in scholarship amount from year to year. However, House Bill 7045 stipulated that for students transitioning to FES UA from McKay, their scholarship amount will not be less than what they received during the 2021-2022 school year.

As long as your private school continues to be approved to participate in state scholarship programs, your student can continue to attend using FES UA funds. You will need to select one of the two Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs) to manage your FES UA funds. Watch for additional information on the selection process by email from the Florida Department of Education (department), from your private school, and from the SFOs.

Students using the McKay Scholarship public school option will be able to continue doing so under the FES UA public school option. Families should continue to work with their districts in selecting their public school choice.

The department is working with both SFOs and with private schools to make the transition as smooth as possible. Watch for information on the SFO selection process by email from the department, from your private school, and from the SFOs themselves.

Siblings of participating FES UA students are eligible for a scholarship to attend a private school under the Educational Options branch of the Family Empowerment Scholarship program, regardless of the family’s income level. Information on siblings should be submitted to your selected SFO during the transition process.

For students participating in FES UA, SFOs receive funding to be held on behalf of families in individual savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. Families may be reimbursed for eligible expenses, or in some cases SFOs may arrange for direct payment for eligible products and services for the student from their ESA.

A complete list of eligible expenses can be found in Section 1002.394(4)(b), F.S. Among the approved uses for funds are private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, higher education expenses and other approved customized learning services and materials. More detailed information is available from your SFO.

Tuition or fees associated with enrollment in courses at FLVS is an approved use of FES UA funds. In order to take FLVS courses, scholarship students must enroll using the private-pay option and then may use FES UA funds to cover the tuition.

While it is not necessary to re-establish eligibility annually, FES UA families are required to submit a sworn compliance statement to their SFO annually to maintain program participation.

Funding for FES UA students attending private schools will not come directly from the department. SFOs have developed systems for payment to private schools and will communicate the required method of confirmation to both schools and families.