3 Scholarships to Help Cover Tuition Costs for Private Christian Education

Studies have found that private schools have several benefits for students and their families, including smaller class size, faith-based education, a more challenging curriculum, and a better sense of community. Unfortunately, many people wrongly believe that these benefits come at an unattainable cost. You might be surprised to learn that a high cost for private education isn’t necessarily the case, as Florida has created several opportunities to give parents more of a choice in their child’s education through the availability of several scholarships.

In this brief article, our team of advisors at Lakeside Christian School, an affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL, has shared some key information for parents looking to take advantage of Florida’s variety of scholarships so that a private education is within reach.


Step Up for Students Scholarship

One of the scholarships that you might be the most surprised to learn about is called the Step Up for Students scholarship. This scholarship originated as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which began in 1988, to help empower low income students and their families to have more of a choice in their education.

Step Up for Students is a little bit different because it is managed by the Department of Education, and it is one of two non-profit Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs) that issue scholarships and determine student eligibility for:


  • The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC)
  • The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES)
  • The Gardiner Scholarship
  • The Hope Scholarship
  • The Reading Scholarship


The Step Up for Students scholarship allows parents the opportunity to take their children to participating private schools if they felt they were not being served with quality in their local schools. The Step Up for Students scholarship program is different because it targets students who tend to have the most limited options for improving the quality of their education.

Some examples of the types of needs this scholarship is intended to address include: students who struggle with bullying, students who struggle with reading, students who have special needs or medical needs, or parents who would like better opportunities for their children by placing them in a private school.

Families who are active duty military can also qualify for this scholarship. This scholarship may not cover 100% of tuition costs, but on average families may be awarded $7,000 toward their educational expenses/tuition.


McKay Scholarship

If your child has disabilities, they may qualify for the McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities. This scholarship fund provided nearly 30,000 Florida students with special needs the opportunity to attend a participating private school during the 2020-21 school year.

The McKay Scholarship Program also offers parents public school choice, allowing the parents or guardians of an eligible special needs student to choose to transfer the student to another public school if their current school is no longer meeting their needs.

Currently, the McKay scholarship is available to all students currently in the Florida Public School system who have a qualified IEP or 504 plan for specific learning issues. A few examples of the conditions suffered by students who can attain this scholarship include:


  • Students with learning disabilities or neurodivergence
  • Students who require accommodations like adaptive equipment
  • Students who have mobility needs
  • Students who suffer from severe food allergies
  • And more


Please note: This scholarship is now combined with the Gardiner Scholarship and may not cover 100% of tuition or expenses. There are additional guidelines which must be met to qualify for this scholarship as well.


FACTS Scholarship

Another scholarship opportunity is the FACTS scholarship, which is intended to help families who have an income-based need for more affordable tuition. The FACTS scholarship is available to all parents who desire that their student attend Lakeside Christian School. You’ll need to speak with one of Lakeside Christian School’s advisors who specializes in private elementary schools in Clearwater, FL to discuss the requirements for this scholarship.


Additional Scholarship Opportunities and How to Apply

There are a few additional scholarship opportunities for private schools in Clearwater, FL:


  • Family Empowerment Scholarship: The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) is a scholarship program offered by the State of Florida through the Department of Education. It is intended for low-income and working-class families. This is different from the Step Up For Students program.
  • AAA Scholarship Fund: The AAA Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships solely to qualifying low-income, disabled and/or displaced students. The AAA Scholarship Foundation is one of the only approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit scholarship organizations exclusively serving qualifying low-income, disabled and/or displaced students through these tax credit scholarship programs in multiple states.


If you’re hoping to learn more about the scholarship opportunities available for your children, don’t hesitate to contact one of the scholarship specialists at Lakeside Christian School. Christian elementary schools in Clearwater do not have to be out of reach due to finances, and there is relief for parents who want a better education for their children while helping remove them from unsafe situations, bullying, or reading problems.

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children from families of all socioeconomic backgrounds and income levels, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call.

Each year, Lakeside, an affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL, provides over $250,000 in scholarships to qualified families. For more information and to schedule a tour, please call Jim Jensen, Administrator at (727) 477-8542. New inquiries only. For all other concerns, please use: (727) 461-3311.


If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, a affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.