How the program works

Our scholarships are awarded first-come first-served on the basis of financial need. It is BISON’s goal to assist families through the full nine years of grammar school (including grandfathering in younger siblings).

The maximum amount of assistance a family can receive per year is $1,800 per child. Every family required to pay a portion (at least $500) of the tuition each year. The parental contribution is a vital element in the success of the program, as families who must invest their own money for tuition have a stronger stake in their child’s education.

Does my family qualify?

  • To be eligible for the BISON program, families must:
  • Reside within the 8 counties of Western New York;
  • Meet income eligibility guidelines (based on percentage of poverty rates);
  • Have a child entering grades Kindergarten through 8th grade;
  • Meet the admissions requirements at the accredited school that their child wants to attend.
Income Eligibility

How to apply

The application deadline for the 2016-17 school year has passed. 

On January 3rd, the Pre-Application Form for the 2017-18 school year will be available.  If you are currently on the waitlist you still must reapply for the 2017-18 school year.  Names do not transfer from year to year.

New Applicant Key Dates/ Deadlines

  • January 3 – February 28, 2017: New Applicant Pre-Application Form available
  • March 10, 2017: Lottery drawing to award new scholarships, families selected will be notified by e-mail with a link to fill out the full online application.  Families wait listed will be notified by mail.
  • April 30, 2017: Deadline for new awardees to complete the full online application
  • May 1, 2017: Awards will begin to be issued and families will be notified of amount via email.
  • If you are currently enrolled in our program you do NOT need to fill out a new application.
  • The BISON Office will be sending you an email in February 2017 with more information and a link to renew your scholarship online for the 2017-18 school year.
  • If you are adding a sibling, you will have the ability to do that on your online re-qualification paperwork by clicking, “add a sibling.”
  • If you have any questions, please contact Cindy McDonald at
  • You are not limited to traditional schools!  If you would like to teach your children at home, and you meet all the requirements in New York State, we will pay 25-75% of the cost of correspondence course tuition and /or teaching supplies, up to $500 per child.
  • Parents are required to submit receipts to the BISON office. Any receipts for a school-related purchase must be deemed acceptable according to BISON’s homeschool expense list.
  • BISON reimburses families twice each school year- once in November and once in March. At these times, BISON mails a check directly to the family.
  • If you have questions, or would like more information on the homeschool program, please contact Cindy McDonald at


1. Who qualifies for the scholarship?

All applicants must be residents of the eight counties of WNY with children entering K-8th grade. The total family income must fall within the income eligibility scale. (see below) You may only apply for your biological children or children that you have legal guardianship or custody.  (Subject to change for 2017-2018)

Maximum Income Based on Total Annual 2015 Household Income
Household Size 75% of Tuition 50% of Tuition 25% of Tuition
2 $15,133 $27,997.00 $40,861.00
3 $19,085 $35,309.00 $51,531.00
4 $23,037 $42,620.00 $62,202.00
5 $26,989 $49,931.00 $72,872.00
6 $30,941 $57,242.00 $83,542.00
7 $34,893 $64,553.00 $94,212.00
8 $38,845 $71,865.00 $104,883.00
*For each additional child add $10,670


2. How do new families apply?

New families must first electronically fill out the Pre-Application Form. The new family Pre-Application Form deadline is February 28, 2017.  You can apply online through our website at . Preference is NOT given to early applications; however you must apply by February 28th to be considered.

3. How are BISON scholarship recipients chosen?

All scholarships are awarded using a lottery from all submitted Pre- Application Forms which is conducted on March 10, 2017. Lottery winners will receive a link to complete a full application and upload supporting documentation  that must be completed to receive the scholarship.

4. How do I know if I won the lottery?

All applicants will be notified by mail the results of the lottery drawing in March 2017. The deadline to complete the application is April 30, 2017.

5.  Why do families have to pay part of the tuition?

One key component of educational success is parental involvement.  Making a financial sacrifice is a strong incentive to becoming, and remaining, involved.  Therefore, the scholarship is a hand-up, not a hand-out. The families are required to pay a minimum of $500 per family.

6. What if I am not satisfied with my child’s school?

You are free to transfer your child to another private school. Contact the BISON Fund office to let us know you are switching schools and we will send you the necessary paperwork.

7. Can the scholarships be used for pre-school or pre-kindergarten?

No. Children must be at least 5 years old by 12/31/2017 and entering kindergarten or a higher grade to be eligible for the scholarship.

Listed below are the three steps lottery winners need to complete to be considered for a BISON scholarship.

  1. Families selected in the lottery drawing will be notified by e-mail with a link to fill out the full online application. We must receive all required supporting documents by April 30, 2017. Please be sure to include a copy of all income sources including your FEDERAL 1040 tax return, child support, business income, public assistance, food stamps, social security income, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation and financial assistance from friends and family. Once you select a school, contact them to fill out the School Commitment Form in our online scholarship database.
  2. Scholarship recipients may use the scholarship at any private school of their choice. Please see the school list tab on our website for a list of schools in the Western New York area. When searching for a school, please keep in mind that the maximum award amount for the 2016-2017 school year is $1,800 per child.
  3. After we receive all the required forms and documents, your scholarship amount will be calculated based on your household size and income as well as the tuition amount. You must re-qualify annually to continue with the BISON program as long as your child is enrolled in a private school through eighth grade. Families will also need to remain income eligible.