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Gov. Henry McMaster Creates Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants

July 20, 2020

GREENVILLE, S.C. – This morning, Governor Henry McMaster announced the creation of the Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) Grants at Hampton Park Christian School. These one-time, needs-based grants of up to $6,500 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.

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. The governor recently announced an investment of GEER funds to the state’s eight HBCU’s.

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.

Additional Statements:

“Since my time in the State Senate and now as a U.S. Congressman, I have fought to bring education resources and decision making as close to the child as possible because I believe every child in South Carolina deserves a quality education regardless of their family’s income level. SAFE Grants will provide enrolled students with the resources and choices in their education to make this a reality. I applaud Governor McMaster for this new program which will benefit many South Carolina students.” — Congressman William Timmons (SC-04)

“As a long-time advocate for school choice, I’m thrilled to see the SAFE Grants program implemented in South Carolina. I supported the CARES Act in Congress and am proud that Governor McMaster has decided to allocate some of the money towards a new school choice program. Limiting the number of educational opportunities made available to our children is a complete disservice, but providing the opportunity of choice is common sense. The SAFE Grants program will give parents the chance to choose a learning environment that best fits their child’s needs and allow them to do so at an affordable cost. School choice is especially vital as South Carolina is moving to reopen schools this fall. Parents should always feel empowered to choose a school that best fits their child’s individual needs, especially in the midst of a pandemic. I thank Governor McMaster for his leadership on this issue and look forward to seeing the SAFE Grants program come to fruition in South Carolina,” said Congressman Jeff Duncan (SC-03).