News Releases

MDE Announces 2nd Lottery for Special Needs Scholarship Program Applications

by Xi Guo | Jan 24, 2017

Carey M. Wright, Ed.D., State Superintendent of Education

Office of Communications & Legislative Support
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR, Director of Communications *601-359-3706 *FAX:  601-359-3033
Jean Cook, Communications Specialist *601-359-3519


For Immediate Release: January 24, 2017

MDE Announces 2nd Lottery for Special Needs Scholarship Program Applications

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education announced plans today for a lottery on January 31 to award 134 Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA) for the 2016-17 school year that were forfeited by families who opted not to participate in the program.  

Established by the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act of 2015, the ESA program provides scholarships to parents of students with disabilities who want to remove their child from a public school to seek educational services elsewhere.

For the 2016-17 school year, the law provides for 425 ESA accounts. Though all 425 scholarships were awarded before the start of the school year, 134 recipients decided not to participate.

All eligible applications received for the 2016-17 school year that have not yet been awarded will be included in the lottery. Only complete, eligible applications will qualify for the lottery. Letters will be mailed to awardees on February 1. 

Additional applicants who would like to be considered for 2016-17 school year lottery must submit an application by January 27. Any eligible applications received after January 27 will be considered for the 2017-18 school year.

ESAs for the 2016-17 school year were increased from $6,500 to $6,637. State law requires ESAs to adjust annually to proportional changes in the base student cost of MAEP, Mississippi’s public education funding formula.

For 2016-17, the eligibility criteria for ESAs was expanded to allow parents of children with an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within five years from the date of application to apply for the ESA program. The original legislation required applicants to have an active IEP within 18 months of the date of application.

To participate in the program:

  • the applicant must be a Mississippi resident;
  • the student must have had an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within five years of the date of application; and
  • the parent must sign an agreement to adhere to the rules of participation.

Parents who are accepted into the program will be reimbursed for expenses quarterly after submission of a reimbursement request with proper documentation of expenses incurred.  Funds can also be paid quarterly directly to an educational service provider if approved by the parent.

For more information, visit

ESA Resources:

Education Scholarship Account application

Education Scholarship Account Frequently Asked Questions



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