Early Learning Scholarships Program

Find guidance related to Early Learning Scholarships in the most recent School Closure Guidance document, available on the COVID-19 Updates webpage. Please reference the Table of Contents within the guidance document to find the Early Learning section.

Apply for a Scholarship

To apply for an early learning scholarship, contact the Area Administrator serving your county. List of Area Administrators and eligibility criteria.

Note: We do not accept applications at the Minnesota Department of Education.

What is an Early Learning Scholarship?

An Early Learning Scholarship can help you pay for high-quality child care and early education to help your child get ready for school. A scholarship must be used at a Parent Aware-Rated program. Parent Aware is a rating tool to help parents select high-quality child care and early education programs. For more information, visit the Parent Aware website. 
The Early Learning Scholarships increase access to high-quality early childhood programs for 3- and 4-year-old children with the highest needs to improve school readiness for all young children. Children birth to 2 years old are eligible if they meet one or more of the following criteria:
  • Child of a teen parent.
  • Currently in foster care.
  • In need of child protective services.
  • Experienced homelessness in the last 24 months.
Priority for scholarships will be given based on family income, child poverty, one of the special populations as noted previously, and geographic region. Families must meet eligibility requirements as outlined in Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.165.

Where Can my Child Use a Pathway I Scholarship?

Pathway I Scholarships are awarded directly to families who meet eligibility requirements. Pathway I Scholarship funds are paid to the early childhood program that the family chooses. You may use your Pathway I Early Learning Scholarship at any eligible child care or early education program in Minnesota with a Parent Aware Rating. Pathway I Scholarships “follow the child” and are awarded to the family for up to 12 months.
Scholarship amounts are based on the Parent Aware rating level of the program you choose.

Families interested in applying for an Early Learning Scholarship should contact the Area Administrator serving their county. Learn more about area administrators.

Where Can my Child Use a Pathway II Scholarship?
Pathway II Scholarships are awarded to families through an eligible Four-Star Parent Aware Rated program. These include Head Start, school district prekindergarten and preschool programs, and child care programs. Programs participating as a Pathway II site receive Pathway II Scholarships funds for up to 12 months.

For more information on the Early Learning Scholarships, please contact our office or call your home county's area administrator. 
To review data and reports about the Early Learning Scholarship Program, visit the Early Learning Scholarships webpage.