South Carolina’s Governor Prioritizes Students with Relief

Today, Governor Henry McMaster released details of a plan to expand educational options and opportunity to families in South Carolina. The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, praises the Governor for his visionary plan to use federal COVID funding for education needs.

Statement from John Schilling, President of the American Federation of Children:

“Governor McMaster has established a new paradigm for families in South Carolina by supporting them with K-12 educational options during this critical time. With this incredibly bold proposal, he joins Oklahoma and Florida governors who have rightly decided to help children in lower income families through prudent use of federal COVID funding. The positive impact generated in the lives of South Carolinian families will reverberate for years as lower income and working class families will get access to a great education for their sons and daughters. We are eager to see more and more governors prioritize the needs of all families in their states.


The Governor’s Office is designating $32M of this GEER Fund to create the SAFE Grants program. This program will be administered by the Office of the Governor (with administrative support from South Carolina Department of Administration) which will contract with a 3rd party online vendor to receive parent applications and disburse subgrants.

The Office of the Governor will appoint a 3-person school advisory panel to review and approve the applications of independent schools to receive subgrants as part of the program.

These funds will be used to support the tuition costs (up to $6,500 per child) of students whose household adjusted gross income (AGI) is 300% or less of the federal poverty level ($78,600 for a family of four) and who are enrolled in an education-related entity (independent school) that the Governor has “deemed essential” to “continue providing educational services to their students” to support the “on-going functionality” of these entities and “to protect education-related jobs.”

Eligible families may apply through a secure online portal at

Schools wishing to participate in the program must complete an online application process that verifies basic legal, educational, and accountability requirements. This application can be found at

Participation in the SAFE Grant program will be considered state assistance to qualified students enrolled in an education-related entity deemed essential by the Governor for carrying out emergency educational services through a subgrant, and will not be considered federal aid or assistance to the school that enrolls the qualified student.