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What are Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants?

SAFE Grants is a program, developed by Governor Henry McMaster, to address the educational needs of eligible K5-12 students who attend a participating independent school.

Modeled on successful grant and scholarship programs serving thousands of students in states like Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina, SAFE Grants will provide critical support for families who need it most, to stabilize their child’s education journey during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that their students can access an education environment of their choice.

Who qualifies for a SAFE Grant and how will they be awarded?

K5-12 students whose household adjusted gross income (AGI) is 300% or less of the federal poverty level are eligible to apply for the program. AGI is commonly used for determining student aid, such as for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) used in higher education. Parents and guardians may apply for these grants through a secure online portal which may be accessed in coming weeks on this site.

Sign up at to receive text an demail notifications for when the online application portal opens and other important program announcements.

How many SAFE Grants are available for the 2020-21 school year?

Governor McMaster has dedicated up to $32 million of a federal grant known as the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund for the SAFE Grants program. (This program does not draw from existing state or local education funds.) At up to $6,500 per eligible student, approximately 5,000 subgrants will be available for the benefit of South Carolina students.

How will scholarships be awarded?

The first 2,500 grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, after which a lottery program will be instituted (if necessary) to allocate the balance of available grant funds.

Are SAFE Grants considered taxable income for parents?

No. As with similar programs across the nation, families will not receive an IRS Form 1099 from the state of South Carolina as a result of benefitting from a SAFE Grant.

What can I do to get ready to apply?

Research independent schools in your area.

If your child is not already enrolled in a participating independent school, start to research and contact schools immediately to see if they plan to participate and inquire about enrollment requirements. A running list of participating independent schools will be updated as they are approved. You may also use your home address to search our handy online database for schools near you.

It is important to remember: each independent school has its own admission policies and procedures. Applying for a SAFE Grant does not guarantee acceptance into a participating independent school. Participating schools may not discriminate based on race, color, or national origin. Participating private schools may also offer additional financial aid to eligible students in the form of scholarships or payment plans. The application process for additional financial aid will vary by school.

Answer the following questions:

  • Is my student a South Carolina resident and entering Kindergarten (5-year old) through 12th grade?
  • What was my adjusted gross income on my last tax return (IRS Form 1040, Line 7 for 2018 or Line 8b for 2019)?
  • What was my total household size (every person claimed on tax document, including yourself)?
  • Have I enrolled or applied to enroll my student in a participating independent school?■

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