Special Needs Scholarship

Florida has created a new Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA) to help parents individualize the educational plans for their children with special needs. Apply Now for the school year starting August 2014.

If you are interested in the Personal Learning Scholarship Account for the school year starting August 2015, please click here to sign up for the interest list so you may receive application updates.

A different kind of scholarship: The PLSA is different than other state scholarships in that it allows parents to personalize the education of their children with unique abilities by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers. These include schools, therapists, specialists, curriculum, technology—even a college savings account.

In addition, families receiving a PLSA through Step Up For Students will have access to a Personal Learning Plan Advisor. These advisors have several decades of experience working with PLSA eligible students and will be available to answer any questions families may have about choosing the services that best meet their children’s individual needs. Families will also have access to a free online tool that will help them oversee their children’s progress.

Is your child eligible? This scholarship is for Florida students in kindergarten through 12th grade with one of the following disabilities: autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Spina bifida, Williams syndrome or Intellectual Disability (severe cognitive impairment). Also, kindergarten students deemed "high risk" because of developmental delays may be eligible. Click here to read the statutory definitions.

The students need either an Individual Education Plan (IEP) from a Florida school district or a formal diagnosis from a licensed physician or psychologist. Students entering kindergarten must be 5 on or before Sept 1. Students entering first grade must be 6 on or before Sept 1. Students can participate in the PLSA scholarship as part of home education, however they cannot be enrolled in a public school or be receiving any other state-sponsored scholarship (McKay Scholarship or the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship). 

Is there an application fee for the PLSA: No. There is not an application fee for the PLSA scholarship.

How much is the scholarship worth? The scholarship amount varies according to grade, county and disability, but the average amount for most students in 2014-15 is $10,000 (and may increase in 2015-16). Students with the most severe disabilities are eligible for a higher scholarship amount. Click here to view the scholarship amount by grade and county.

How many scholarships are available? For the first year, 2014-15, the state is providing enough money to support roughly 1,800 students. The scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

How you can spend the money in your child’s account: Parents can use the account to pay for a variety of approved services and materials. These may include tuition and fees at an eligible private school, applied behavior analysis services, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapy, physical therapy, services from listening and spoken language specialists, full time private tutoring, virtual programs or online courses, exam fees, contract services from school districts, contributions to the state prepaid college program, instructional materials such as digital devices and assistive technology, and curriculum materials.Click here to view details on approved products and services, and to search for eligible specialized services providers and schools.

How long the scholarship lasts: Students can continue to receive scholarship until they graduate from high school, reach age 22 or return to public school. Money in the account can roll over from one year to the next, and the account can remains in place until a student graduates from a postsecondary education institution, such as college or technical institute, or has gone four consecutive years after high school with no further education. At that point, the account is closed and any remaining money reverts to the state.

Can I still home educate my child? Yes, the PLSA can be used as an educational tool for parents who choose to educate their child in their own home.

Click here to be notified when applications are available for the school year starting August 2015