MY GUIDE > 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, or 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 (or has ever been in the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services)
  • Is the child of a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical first responder, eligible for the Star of Texas Award. 

Third, contact your local school district to find out what they offer. 


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.