MDE plans 2nd lottery for special needs scholarship program

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The Mississippi Department of Education is planning a second lottery for the special needs scholarship program.

The lottery will be on January 31 to award 134 Education Scholarship Accounts for the 2016-2017 school year that were forfeited by families who opted not to participate in the program.

The ESA program provides scholarships to parents of students with disabilities who want to remove their child from a public school to seek educational services elsewhere.

For the 2016-17 school year, the law provides for 425 ESA accounts. Though all 425 scholarships were awarded before the start of the school year, 134 recipients decided not to participate.

Additional applicants who would like to be considered for 2016-17 school year lottery must submit an application by January 27. Any eligible applications received after January 27 will be considered for the 2017-18 school year.

ESAs for the 2016-17 school year were increased from $6,500 to $6,637. State law requires ESAs to adjust annually to proportional changes in the base student cost of MAEP, Mississippi’s public education funding formula.

For 2016-17, the eligibility criteria for ESAs was expanded to allow parents of children with an active Individualized Education Program  within five years from the date of application to apply for the ESA program. The original legislation required applicants to have an active IEP within 18 months of the date of application.

To participate in the program:

  • the applicant must be a Mississippi resident;
  • the student must have had an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within five years of the date of application; and
  • the parent must sign an agreement to adhere to the rules of participation.

Parents who are accepted into the program will be reimbursed for expenses quarterly after submission of a reimbursement request with proper documentation of expenses incurred.  Funds can also be paid quarterly directly to an educational service provider if approved by the parent.

Get more information on MDE’s website. 

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