How the K-8 program works

Our K-8 scholarships are awarded using a lottery from submitted pre-application forms. The pre-application form deadline is February 28, 2020. The lottery will be conducted on March 2, 2020. BISON will notify families via email if they have been selected for a scholarship or placed on our waitlist. 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 $2,100 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.

How the high school program works

Our high school scholarships are awarded to current BISON 8th graders only. BISON families are selected by a lottery drawing. Families awarded can use their annual $3,500 award at any of our area’s private high schools.

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

Our pre-application form for the 2020-21 school year is open. Click on the “Apply Now” button to be entered into our lottery. The deadline to submit this form is February 28, 2020. Our lottery will take place on March 2, 2020. We will notify families via email whether they have been awarded or have been placed on our waitlist.  Any pre-applications submitted after the February 28th deadline will be automatically placed on our waitlist. We go back to the waitlist if funds become available. Pre-application details:

  • To be eligible you must meet income eligibility guidelines and reside in one of the following counties of Western New York: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming.
  • Before completing the pre-application form, please review the income eligibility scale to see if you are eligible financially for a scholarship.
  • Scholarships are only for children entering kindergarten through the eighth grade.
  • If you are currently receiving a scholarship in our program, you do NOT need to fill out a pre-application form. Instead you will receive renewal information in February 2020.

Please click the “Apply Now” button to apply.

New Applicant Key Dates/ Deadlines

  • January 1 – February 28, 2020: New applicant pre-application form for 2020-21 school year available.
  • March 2, 2020: Lottery drawing to award new scholarships, families selected will be notified by email with a link to fill out the full online application.  Families waitlisted will also be notified by email.
  • April 30, 2020: Deadline for new awardees to complete the full online application. Awards are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • May 1, 2020: Awards will begin to be issued and families will be notified of scholarship amount.
  • If you are currently enrolled in our program you do NOT need to fill out a pre-application form.
  • The BISON Office will be sending you an email in February 2020 with more information and a link to renew your scholarship online for the 2020-21 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.

Maximum Income Based on Total Annual 2019 Household Income
Household Size Maximum Allowable Income
2 $45,657
3 $57,591
4 $69,525
5 $81,459
6 $93,393
7 $105,327
8 $117,261
For each additional children add $11,934

2. How do new families apply?

New families must complete a pre-application form by clicking the “Apply Now” button. The new applicant deadline is February 28, 2020.  Preference is NOT given to early applications; however you must apply by February 28th to be considered. Families applying after February 28th will be placed on our waitlist.

3. How are BISON scholarship recipients chosen?

Scholarships are awarded using a lottery from all submitted pre-application forms which is conducted on March 2, 2020. Lottery winners will receive an email with a link directing them to complete a full application in order to receive the scholarship.

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

All applicants will be notified of lottery results by email on March 2, 2020. If you’re not chosen in the lottery you will be placed on our waitlist should funding become available.

5. I received a Scholarship award email … now what?

In your award email, there will be a link that will take you where you need to go to complete your full application. Clink on the link and follow the application steps. The deadline to complete the application is April 30, 2020. Please be sure to include all your 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 family & friends. Select your school (a complete list is on our website) and contact the school to complete the school commitment form. After receipt of all the required documents, your scholarships will be calculated based on your household size and income, as well as tuition amount. You must renew annually to continue with BISON.

5. I received an email that I’m on the waitlist … now what?

Unfortunately, there are always more applicants than available funding. We keep waitlist names for the academic year hopeful that additional funding becomes available. If you are not taken off the waitlist, you will need to resubmit a pre-application form next year to be considered.

6.  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 handout. The families are required to pay a minimum of $500 per family.

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

You are free to transfer your child to another private school. Your scholarship will transfer with you unless you are delinquent with tuition payments or a child is asked to leave. Contact the BISON Fund office if you decide to transfer and will walk you through the next steps.

8. Can the scholarships be used for Pre-K or High School?

The scholarship cannot be used for Pre-K. Children must be at least 5 years old by 12/31/20 and entering kindergarten. Our BISON 8th graders will have the opportunity to be entered into the high school lottery for a chance at a BISON high school scholarship.

Listed below are the four steps new families need to complete to be considered for a BISON scholarship.

  1. Complete a pre-application form online by February 28, 2020. If you have any questions, call BISON at 716.854.0869, ext. 1.
  2. Watch for notification after the BISON lottery is held on March 2, 2020. Winners will be notified by email and wait-listed families are also notified.
  3. If selected, you will receive an email with a link to complete the full application. Enroll your child(ren) in the school of their choice and ask the school to complete the school commitment form.
  4. Once all steps are completed, BISON will notify you of your scholarship amount. Watch for notices to annually renew your BISON scholarship in February.