$5000 Nevada TOTS Grant for Special Needs

by Kimberley McGee

Las Vegas homeschool groups have been talking about the $5,000 Nevada TOTS Grant. I reached out to Don Soifer of Nevada Action for School Options to explain how to sign up, who is eligible and more. If you are homeschooling special needs children or have a child with an IEP, this may be able to offset costs.

New to homeschooling or are looking more info about local schools and resources? Check out the local deals and discounts for classes, meetups, field trips and other ways to save in Las Vegas. We are hosting the 4th Education Resource Fair to help local parents on Sept. 29! We’ll have more info on the TOTS program and other local resources at the fair.

homeschool resource fair

The legislative Interim Finance Committee gave the final approval on August 18 for the Nevada State Treasurer to enact the TOTS grant program. This awards $5,000 tax-free grants with a wide range of allowable uses to families for each eligible special-needs child.

Grants will be made through the existing ABLE Savings program administered by the Nevada State Treasurer.  Funds can be used for a variety of educational needs, including the costs of tutoring, microschooling and services available through diverse providers, assistive technology, even transportation.

You must first set up an ABLE account,  https://savewithable.com/nv/home.html, and then apply for a TOTS grant.

Who is eligible for the TOTS Grant?

Children with special needs, broadly defined, are eligible for the TOTS grant program.  The Nevada State Treasurer will make all final determinations.  A family must have a letter from a physician (or chiropractor) certifying the disability at the time they apply, but they will only be asked to produce it if audited (but will under penalty of perjury to produce the letter if so).

What are the restrictions? 

There are a wide range of allowable uses.  As defined in Nevada statute, “expenses related to education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health care costs, financial management and other qualified disability expenses.”  This includes tutoring costs (including microschooling or other educational supports for homeschoolers), private school tuition.  Also as defined, the program is to benefit: “persons [under 18 years of age] with disabilities who have been negatively or disparately 17 impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What is the origin of the TOTS grant?

Senator Scott Hammond created this program in negotiations in the final days of the 2021 Nevada Legislative Session.

“Be truthful and act quickly, as the full amount in the program, $5 million, will likely be used up within a week or two of the program being opened for applicants,”  Soifer said. “We advise applying to open an ABLE account now, as there will likely be a logjam.”

When asked to explain how their child with a special need was negatively impacted by the pandemic conditions, consider your answer carefully, as it may have impact on whether your child is considered eligible.

On August 18, the new TOTS grant program received the final approval necessary from the legislative Interim Finance Committee. As a result, the Nevada State Treasurer will being enacting the program imminently, awarding $5,000 tax-free grants, with a wide range of allowable uses, to families for each eligible special-needs child. Program applications will open soon for families (watch this space for updates).

Grants will be made through the ABLE Savings program administered by the Nevada State Treasurer, so interested families should strongly consider opening an ABLE account right away.  The total program budget of $5 million will go quickly, and we don’t want families in need to don’t miss out.

All learners under 18 years of age with special needs are eligible, regardless of where they receive their schooling.  Funds will be available to families for a wide range of educational needs, including the costs of tutoring, microschooling and services available through diverse education providers, assistive technology, even transportation.

Families must apply in two parts – first to set up an ABLE account, second to apply for a TOTS grant.

We will be running office hours and special events in Las Vegas and Reno in the coming weeks to help families enroll and to answer questions.  Contact us for information or questions at info@nevadaaction.org or 702-202-3573 for information.

Special thanks to Senator Scott Hammond for his championing this program down the stretch during the legislative session. “I was thankful that the leadership of the majority party was willing to work with me to create this valuable opportunity for our special needs learners during the final days of the session,” said Senator Hammond.  “The pandemic made it difficult for all families to keep their children’s learning on track, and especially for children with disabilities.  This special program of assistance will make a valuable difference for all of Nevada’s community of special needs learners, including those who homeschool or attend nonpublic schools.”

Bottom line

“Be honest, keep receipts and good records, and spend wisely as future funding for this program is uncertain,” Soifer said.

You can read the statute here:

https://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/81st2021/Bills/Amendments/A_SB461_865.pdf

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