What Are SAFE Grants and Are You Eligible for One?

There are all sorts of helpful grants out there right now, and one of the most exciting new options is the SAFE grant program. This grant was recently released as part of a coronavirus relief bill. It's not available to everyone, but if you meet the qualifications, it can be really helpful.

Gov. Henry McMaster Announces SAFE Grants

If you're living in South Carolina and have school aged children, you'll be happy to hear there's been some good news recently. On Monday, Governor Henry McMaster announced that South Carolina has created the Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) grants. These grants are meant to address the unique needs of students trying to learn during the coronavirus.

SAFE grants are primarily focused on helping students in private school education. Many of these students come from working class families, where parents have already struggled to get their children a quality education. With the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting the working class, many of these parents are out of work.

McMaster states that "a child's displacement from the school they love and thrive at could have devastating consequences." The SAFE program aims to help alleviate some of the financial pressure on these families. By providing families with a grant, they can avoid having to move their child to a public school during a time already filled with stress and turmoil. It can help with both tuition and other education costs for these families.

How Much Assistance Does the SAFE Grant Provide?

Right now, there are plans to fund 5,000 of these grants throughout the community. They can provide up to $6,500 worth of help to each grant recipient. The SAFE grant program is modeled on several other similar programs in Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina.

Its funding comes from the CARES Act. This federal act gave each state a Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund to help with schooling needs during the crisis. South Carolina got a GEER fund of $48 million. They plan to use $32 million of this funding on their SAFE grant funding, so the majority of education assistance funding will be focused on students in private education.

For many South Carolina residents, the news of this grant is exciting and helpful. It will help many at-risk students stay in their familiar educational environment. However, some worry that it only addresses the needs of a very specific section of the state's students. Those in public school, who may need help paying for internet, distance learning materials, or other school supplies will not get as much help from the state's GEER fund. The news of this grant is likely to set off more debates on whether government funding is best spent improving the public school system or paying for more students to attend private school.

SAFE Grant Qualifications

Since there are only 5,000 possible grants to give right now, South Carolina is focusing on giving them to those most in need. First of all, this grant is primarily focused on students attending private schools. You'll most likely need to have a school aged child currently enrolled in a private school to access the assistance. Your family will need to reside in South Carolina, since the program is focused on the state's residents.

Furthermore, your household's entire income needs to be 300 percent or less than the federal poverty level. This is your adjusted gross income, which you probably determined recently for your taxes. Keep in mind that it is your income calculated minus specific deductions, so it is lower than your average income. This may make it easier to qualify for the grant.

How You Can Apply for SAFE Grants

If you think your family could benefit from these funds, you need to make plans to apply for the grant as soon as possible. You can visit the South Carolina Department of Education's official grant opportunities page to learn more about application.

On this website, you can create an account and fill out a grant application form. Be prepared to provide information on your schooling needs, financial situation, and more. There is a limited number of funds available, so you may want to apply as soon as SAFE grant application opens. This will help ensure you get the best chance possible of obtaining a grant.

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