MY GUIDE Services & Transitions > Pre-kindergarten: Application & Eligibility

KEYWORDS: age 3 through 5school basedservices and transitions

Three steps towards eligibility and applying for pre-k

First, check the age requirements. Your child must be at least 3 or 4 years old by September 1 to enroll in a public school pre-k program. The age depends on your local pre-k program. Some school districts have pre-k for both 3- and 4-year-old children; some districts have pre-k only for 4-year-olds. Some districts are not required to offer a pre-k program. 

Second, check the other requirements. To be eligible, a child must meet one or more:

  • Unable to speak or understand English
  • Eligible for the national free or reduced-price lunch program (educationally disadvantaged)
  • Homeless
  • Have a parent or guardian on active duty in the United States armed forces, Texas state military forces, or the reserves
  • Have a parent or guardian who was injured or killed while on active duty in the United States armed forces, Texas state military forces, or the reserves
  • Currently be in foster care or was previously in foster care

Third, contact your local school district to find out what they offer. Some school districts in Texas offer half-day pre-k and some districts offer full-day pre-k. To find your local school district, you can call 211, do an online search, or use Texas Education Agency’s school district locator.

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Pre-k in public schools is offered at no cost for eligible children. Some private preschools have classes for 4-year-olds called pre-k—these are NOT the same as a public school pre-k program. Private pre-k is fee-based.