South Carolina

Refundable Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children

  • Individual Tax Credit/Deduction
  • Enacted 2015
  • Launched 2015

The South Carolina Refundable Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children is a refundable tax credit program, meaning parents or guardians of students with special needs can be reimbursed, through a tax credit, for what they paid out of pocket for private school tuition. Learn more about program eligibility, funding, regulations, and legal history on this page.

We do not administer this program.

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  • 213

    Participating Taxpayers (2020)

  • 13%

    of Students Eligible Statewide

  • $9,390

    Average Credit Claimed (2020)

  • 84%

    Average Credit as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending

South Carolina’s Refundable Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children Program Participation

Taxpayers Participating
School Year Ending

Student Funding

Parents or guardians receive a tax credit worth the lesser of (1) $11,000 per student or (2) their children’s actual cost of attending school. However, if the student receives an Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children Fund scholarship, then the credit claimed may equal only the difference of $11,000 or the cost of tuition, whichever is lower, and the amount of the tax credit-funded scholarship. The total cap on the program is $2 million (although there may be some flexibility based on participation in the Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children Fund program; total cumulative cap for both programs is $14 million).

(Last updated December 14, 2023) 

Student Eligibility

Parents are eligible if their child has been designated by the South Carolina Department of Education as meeting the federal definition of a “child with a disability” (34 CFR § 300.8). Additionally, a student’s parents must believe the assigned public school district does not sufficiently meet the student’s needs. Students who have been diagnosed within the last three years by a licensed speech-language pathologist, psychiatrist, medical, mental health, psycho educational or other comparable licensed healthcare provider as having one of the following are eligible: a neurodevelopmental disorder; a substantial sensory or physical impairment (such as deaf, blind, or orthopedic disability); or some other disability; or acute or chronic condition that significantly impedes the student’s ability to learn and succeed in school without specialized instructional and associated supports and services tailored to the child’s unique needs. Students must attend an eligible independent school.

(Last updated December 14, 2023) 

EdChoice Expert Feedback

South Carolina’s refundable tax credit for students with special needs helps tens of thousands of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do more to expand educational opportunity.

Eligibility for the tax credits is limited to students with special needs. About one in eight South Carolina students are eligible to receive a tax credit. Statewide, less than one percent of students participate in one of South Carolina’s private educational choice options (including the Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children Fund).

The average credit claimed is about $9,400, which is about 84 percent of the average expenditure per student at South Carolina’s district schools. Tax credits are worth 100 percent of the value of the child’s tuition costs up to $11,000, but only $2 million in tax credits are available annually, which is equivalent to only 0.02 percent of South Carolina’s total K–12 revenue.

To expand access to educational choice, South Carolina policymakers should significantly increase the amount of available tax credits and expand eligibility to all students. The program could also be converted into an education savings account to ensure that all students have access to the education that’s the right fit for them, whether private school or a customized course of education.

South Carolina’s special-needs tax credits generally avoid unnecessary and counterproductive regulations.

(Last updated December 14, 2023) 

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Credit Value: 100%
  • Individual Credit Cap: $11,000 per student
  • Testing Mandates: State test or Nationally norm-referenced tests
  • Budget Cap: $2 million
  • Limited to students with special needs

Parent Requirements:

  • Provide certification that the student has exceptional needs, certification that student was enrolled in an eligible school and proof of the cost of attendance at the eligible school

(Last updated December 14, 2023) 

Governing Statutes

S.C. Code Ann. § 12-6-3790(H)(2)

(Last updated December 14, 2023)