Special Education Bridge Loan Overview

The Special Education Bridge Loan Program provides interest-free loans to low- and moderate-income residents of New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester, and Long Island to help them access appropriate special education for their special needs children.

Loan applicants must have annual pre-tax household income at or below the income limits for their household size. If your annual pre-tax household income is slightly above the limit on the chart below, please contact Ivy Ip, Special Education Program Coordinator, at iip@HFLS.org or (212) 706-0041 about your specific situation; you may still qualify for a Special Education Bridge Loan.

Special Education Bridge Loans provide school tuition while the family awaits reimbursement or payment from the NYC Department of Education (DOE) or their local school district. Loans are provided once a fully-executed stipulation of settlement, hearing decision, or pendency agreement/order is obtained from the DOE or school district. The loans are immediately repayable from the settlement or award proceeds when such proceeds are received by the borrower’s attorney.

Loan Process

The following information and documents are required to apply for a Special Education Bridge Loan:

  • Application Form: Please go to the bottom of this page or click here to access the online application form for a Special Education Bridge Loan.
  • Copy of your fully-executed stipulation of settlement, hearing decision, or pendency agreement/order. HFLS cannot provide a Special Education Bridge Loan without one of these documents.
  • Copies of government-issued photo IDs that include signatures and serve as proof of address for the applicant and their spouse or partner, if relevant (e.g. a driver’s license). If the driver’s license does not include the applicant’s current address, HFLS may require other documentation as proof of residency.

You will be able to upload the documents above to your online application. Once HFLS receives your completed application, Ivy Ip will be in touch with any questions and to move the process forward.

Please contact Ivy at iip@HFLS.org or (212) 706-0041 with any questions.

Once HFLS has reviewed and approved your completed application, you will receive two documents via email:

  1. A Parent Letter, to be signed by you (and your spouse, if you are married).
  2. A Promissory Note, to be signed by you (and your spouse, if you are married).

Please sign and return these documents to Ivy.

In addition to the above, your attorney and the school your child attends will each receive a document for signature:

  1. Your attorney will receive an Attorney Letter, confirming the details of your case and loan, including the repayment of your loan directly from the proceeds released by the DOE once those proceeds are received by your attorney.
  2. The school that your child attends will receive a School Acknowledgement Letter, explaining the purpose of the Special Education Bridge Loan.

Once the signed loan closing paperwork above is received, HFLS will disburse the loan. If the loan is paying for tuition owed, a check will be mailed directly to the school. In cases in which the HFLS loan is reimbursing you for tuition funds you have already laid out rather than paying the school for tuition you owe, a check will be mailed to you or the funds will be deposited into your checking account.

When the DOE or school district sends reimbursement or payment as per the terms of the stipulation of settlement, hearing decision, or pendency agreement/order, the funds will be sent directly to your attorney’s escrow account. Your attorney will then send the funds directly to HFLS, in accordance with the signed Attorney Letter and the Parent Letter, to repay your loan.


Here is a visual guide to the process and timeline for pursuing tuition reimbursement from the NYC DOE. Bridge loans for private school tuition are made at the “District Executes Stipulation” or “Decision Issued” stage. Download the infographic here.

Here is a video of our webinar, Bridging the Gap: Securing Funding While Awaiting DOE Payout.

See how to apply.

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