MOST provides funding for financially eligible families with students in PK through grade 12 (additional scholarships to local colleges for MOST students are available on a limited basis) who reside in Shelby County, TN. Students must be in attendance on the opening day of the school year to activate the scholarship. For a school that is offering virtual learning, the child must be accounted for through whatever means the school uses to take attendance. If a student leaves school mid-year, they must have attended school for at least 4 weeks (2o school days) for any portion of the scholarship to be paid.
FINANCIAL ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
To be eligible, a family must fall within the Annual Income Eligibility Scale for the school year for which the family is applying for a scholarship. Each year, the scale changes slightly, as it is based on the National School Lunch Guidelines.
* Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) reported on all tax returns filed by those who are counted as family members. Note: if depreciation is taken for property, automobiles, etc., it will be added back to the AGI.
* Any other household income not reported on the tax return, including but not limited to:
- Unreported earned income
- Unreported unearned income (i.e. Social Security or disability payments, received by any household member and not reported on the tax return)
- All government assistance (Families First, SSI, SNAP Food Benefits, etc.)
- Child Support (either court-ordered or agreed upon between parents for all children being claimed, not just the applicant)
Knowingly providing false information on any MOST form will result in an immediate termination of the MOST Scholarship and McDonnell Scholarship.
THE VALUE OF A MOST SCHOLARSHIP
MOST partners with private schools in Shelby County to help financially bridge the gap between tuition, less school-provided financial aid, and the family’s financial responsibility. Scholarships are calculated on a sliding scale based on family income and school tuition.
MOST families, who must pay a minimum of $500 per MOST Scholar per year toward tuition, should keep in mind that tuition costs vary greatly from school to school. Families are responsible for the remaining balance of tuition and other costs such as school fees, school supplies, uniforms, field trips, lunches, snacks, and any expenses for other instructional or extracurricular activities or before- or after-school care. Families should inquire about such costs and take these expenses into account when they calculate what they will be required to pay.
Note: MOST families are required to apply for financial aid at their children’s schools, if applicable. Students will receive both school financial aid and a MOST Scholarship.
PK3 through GRADE 8 SCHOLARSHIPS
The entry points for the MOST Scholarship Program are PK3, PK4, kindergarten, and grades 1 and 2. Exceptions are made for students entering grade 3 - 8 who have been diagnosed with special developmental, learning, or emotional needs and wish to attend a MOST Partner School that was established to address those needs.
HIGH SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS
MOST 8th graders are given a one-time opportunity to apply for a high school scholarship. In January, students will receive a MOST High School Scholarship Application via email and U.S. Mail. Along with the application, students must submit their report cards for grades 7 & 8. Those who do not return the application by the stated deadline will not be given another opportunity to apply and their MOST Scholarship will be deactivated after grade 8. The application process is designed to reinforce the idea that high school students are ultimately responsible for their own educational experiences.
Each year MOST identifies approximately five current rising 9th graders who exhibit outstanding academic promise, leadership, and character and have distinguished themselves among their peers by demonstrating attitudes and behaviors that mark them for success in secondary school, college, and life. The McDonnell Scholarship is in addition to the general high school scholarship and is valued at up to $2,500 per year. Awards will be made based on grades, teacher recommendations, an in-person test and writing assessment, and an interview in the MOST offices. Rising 8th graders who are interested in being considered for the McDonnell Scholarship will mark as such on the general high school scholarship application.
Parents and guardians of high school scholars (general and McDonnell) must continue to qualify financially based on the same income eligibility scale as families of younger students.
STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
The only exception for new applicants relative to age is an older student (entering grades 3 through 8) who has had a recent individually administered psychoeducational evaluation that determines the child has an intellectual or developmental disability, dyslexia, attention deficits, autism spectrum disorder, or a defined social-emotional need and is looking to attend one of the following MOST partner schools or programs. The family of a child with special needs must still qualify financially for a scholarship based on the same income eligibility scale as other applicants. A recent written document of a professional’s diagnosis and recommendations must be included with the application. Students with special needs in high school are given leniency relative to the GPA requirements.