Homeschooling families have reputations for resourcefulness and rugged individualism. But, independence aside, many homeschoolers could benefit from financial assistance. Paying for daily supplies can take a toll, as can paying for enrichment opportunities, such as music lessons, science camps or art classes. Although grant assistance does exist for homeschooling families, finding it often requires some ingenuity and dedicated searching.
Homeschooling can certainly be affordable, but unexpected expenses arise even under the most frugal management. Some homeschoolers struggle to afford basic books or curricula, while others experience larger, more personal problems that affect their schooling situations. Single homeschooling parents occasionally face financial difficulties, or families with special-needs children may need emergency funding. These types of circumstances may inspire homeschoolers to search for grants.
Grants exist for families, individuals and support groups, and some mainstream education programs also offer funds to homeschooling applicants. Such organisations as the Home School Legal Defense Association (HLSDA) provide grants for families in need, particularly homeschooling widows and widowers, single-parent families and families with disabled children. Such organisations as the Home School Foundation help families buy the supplies they need to start homeschooling. Other grants fund individual homeschooled students who are pursuing special projects or entering college. Even homeschooling support groups can apply for funding to improve educational programming or to create new opportunities for students.
To apply for grants, applicants often must live in certain geographical regions, have specific needs or belong to certain organisations. The West Virginia Homeschooling ROAD Grant, for instance, only funds West Virginians, and the Rosenberg Fund for Children only aids children of activists who have faced financial hardship because of their beliefs. Need-based grant applications usually ask for documentation of income, and nearly all grant applications require a statement or essay that describes why funds are needed and how they will be used.
Although emergency grants, such as those offered by HLSDA, often have rolling deadlines, most other grant programs have yearly or twice-yearly deadlines. Some programs, such as the ROAD Grant, have quarterly deadlines. The length of review time varies. The Home School Foundation promises to respond to need-based applicants within four to six weeks, while the Arizona Homeschool Scholarship Committee accepts applications in January and does not announce recipients until mid-spring. Review times rarely exceed six months, however.
Because searching and applying for grants can be a tedious process, homeschoolers have adopted strategies to help them obtain funding. Some make grant applications part of their routines, applying for small grants multiple times annually. Other homeschoolers register their schools as non-profit. This opens up a range of new possibilities, allowing them to apply for grants that fund alternative education programs in addition to grants specifically designated for homeschoolers.