The MOST Program FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Information

One key component of educational success is parental involvement. Making a financial sacrifice is a strong incentive for getting, and keeping, parents involved in their children’s schools and in the educational process. A MOST Scholarship is a hand-up, not a handout.

MOST scholarships may be used at any of our partner schools. Click on Partner Schools tab for more information.

Families with children entering preschool, kindergarten, or first and second grades in the fall of the year the scholarship is awarded may apply if they are financially eligible. These families must fall below the maximum income requirements, with the guidelines for the National School Lunch Program forming the basis for the MOST scale. The scale for MOST scholarships includes those who need help paying for tuition but whose income is a little more than the lunch program allows, up to 270% of the poverty level. Financial information is gathered from parents each year, and they must requalify to remain in the MOST program. We also have an attendance requirement for the students, grade requirements for students in high school, and the parents must remain financially responsible for their portion of tuition payments.

MOST believes that all children deserve equal access to the education that best fits their needs, regardless of ZIP codes or financial circumstances. Helping children get a strong start in school has many benefits to their ultimate success. There is, however, a merit component to the optional MOST high school McDonnell Scholarship, as good grades are a major consideration in the selection process.

MOST boasts a 93% four-year college/university matriculation rate. Many MOST students graduate with honors and with post secondary education scholarships.

Application Information

MOST accepts applications from Shelby County residents who meet financial requirements and who have a child entering PK3, PK4, kindergarten, or grades 1 or 2. [Also eligible: students entering PK3 through grade 8 who have diagnosed special needs and will attend one of the following MOST partner schools or programs: Bodine School, Bowie Center Day School, Concord Academy, Holy Rosary Catholic School's ANGEL program or The Learning Center, Madonna Learning Center, Northpoint Christian School's REACH program, The Phoenix School for Creative Learning, Shady Oaks School, or St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School's PLUS program.] If your child does not meet these requirements, you should not apply. Once your student is receiving a scholarship he/she will keep the scholarship through grade 8, as long as the family remains financially eligible and has stayed current with all program requirements. Eighth-graders have a one-time opportunity to apply for the MOST High School Scholarship and the McDonnell Scholarship, which are need-based but also factor in student conduct and academics.

Eligible parents or guardians submit an online pre-application by the stated deadline (typically the last day of February), and recipients are selected by lottery shortly thereafter. The selected families will be sent a New Student Scholarship Application by email and will have several weeks from the date of notification to submit their paperwork, including proof of all household income and household residents. Failure to submit the proper paperwork by the deadline will result in the scholarship offer being withdrawn and offered to the next winning lottery number. Applications are only available during the open pre-application season, which takes place during the entire month of February.

If you are awarded a MOST scholarship, you will be required to submit documentation of all household income (i.e. income earned by anyone living in the home), including: Earned income (the prior-year tax return(s), including Schedule C if self-employed, and W-2s and/or 1990s for all filers in the household), Families First (provide Cash Issuance History), SSI (provide statement with yearly amount), SNAP (provide Food Stamp Issuance History), Social Security (provide SSA 1099 for each household recipient), Child support (provide Custodial Parent Payment Summary or a signed letter from paying party if support is not court-ordered), and any other income not included in the categories above. You must also provide proof of the number of people in your household by having them listed on your tax return or on the documentation of government aid or child support. MOST reserves the right to rescind any scholarship if a family provides incomplete or inaccurate financial information.

Each year, we accept online pre-applications for the scholarship lottery during February. All pre-applications received by the deadline (usually the last day of February) will be treated equally. Since scholarships are awarded based on a lottery (and not on a first-come, first-served basis), there is no benefit to getting pre-applications submitted earlier in the pre-application period.

MOST keeps a waiting list of those students whose pre-applications were part of the lottery, but for that pre-application season only. Once all scholarships have been awarded for a given school year, the list of pre-applicants is discarded, and families must apply again the following year if they are still eligible.

The amount of a MOST scholarship is determined by family size and income relative to tuition, less any financial aid provided by the school. For the 2022–2023 school year, the maximum award is $3,300. Families are required to apply for financial aid from the school (if applicable). The most common reason that families leave the MOST program is that they cannot afford to continue their part of tuition payments. Because stability is important in a child’s education, please seriously evaluate your financial situation and determine whether it is feasible to make private schooling a long-term commitment for your family.

Scholarships can be used at any of our partner schools. We recommend that you thoroughly research the schools you are looking at for your child, taking into consideration cost (including tuition plus all required fees and expenses — activities, books, uniforms, aftercare, etc.), location, school size, atmosphere, teaching methods, programs for special needs, and religious teachings if any. For more information on choosing a school, visit the Parents tab.

No, though MOST does provide scholarships at a select number of prekindergarten programs. Search our directory of partner schools for more information.

Participant Information

For students in PK3 through grade 7, you may put a MOST scholarship on a one-time, one-year hold by contacting Salle Norton (snorton@memphisscholarships.org). We do not allow holds for students in grades 8 through 12.

As long as a family does not have a balance due at the school the student is leaving, scholarships may be transferred between schools a maximum of two times (not counting transfers due to graduation from a school's highest grade). Transfers may occur either at the semester or between school years. Stability is very important in a child's education, so we urge all parents and guardians to consider carefully the decision to transfer a student, particularly during the school year. To transfer schools, the parent or guardian must request that the current school completes an Exit Form showing a zero balance for tuition and fees. The school to which the child is transferring must complete a School Commitment Form (SCF). These forms may be filled out by the schools via the Schools Tab. The MOST family does not need to complete any additional paperwork.

We do add siblings of current MOST Scholars to the program, as long as the siblings will be entering PK3, PK4, kindergarten, or grades 1 or 2 in their first year as a MOST Scholar. You do not need to enter the lottery process to add siblings of current MOST scholars. When you fill out Requalification Form you will add the sibling(s) and attach a copy of that child's birth certificate. Other questions? Please contact us.