GREENVILLE, S.C. — Governor Henry McMaster held a press conference Monday morning to announce the creation of the Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants – one-time, needs-based grants of up to $6,500 that will help or subsidize the 2020-21 tuition for eligible students at participating private, parochial or independent schools in South Carolina. Approximately 5,000 grants will be funded.
McMaster chose Hampton Park Christian School in Greenville as the location to make the announcement.
The one-time grants are funded by monies received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by the Congress and signed into law by President Trump and allocated directly to each governor. Each state received an allocation for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. South Carolina’s share of GEER funds was $48 million – $32 million of which will fund SAFE Grants.
According to guidelines, to be eligible for SAFE Grants, a student must be from a household with an adjusted gross income of 300% or less of the federal poverty level.
“Private schools in our state provide an essential education to over 50,000 children,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “They provide parents the ability to choose the type of education environment and instruction they feel best suits their child’s unique needs. And a large number of these students come from working or low-income families – who, in the best economy, are barely able to scrimp and scrape together just enough money to pay their child’s tuition.”
McMaster explained that “during this pandemic, with so much uncertainty and anxiety facing families, a child’s displacement from the school they love and thrive at could have devastating consequences to their learning and emotional progress.”
Modeled on successful grant and scholarship programs serving thousands of students in Florida, Arizona and North Carolina, SAFE grants will provide critical support for working, low-income families impacted financially by the pandemic. SAFE Grants will ensure that these students can access an education of their choice.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston praised McMaster in a statement, saying, "We applaud Gov. McMaster for ensuring South Carolina students can remain in the schools of their choice during these incredibly challenging times.
“This program will provide families across our state the stability they deserve as they face economic hardship and an uncertain future due to COVID-19. We look forward to welcoming new students into our Catholic classrooms in the fall.”
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