Florida created the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship in 2001 to give low-income students one learning option that is not available to them because of their financial circumstances. It allows them to consider whether a private school might be a better fit academically.
Step Up awarded scholarships, worth up to up to $6,519 for Kindergarten–5th grade, $6,815 for 6th-8th grade and $7,111 for 9th-12th grade, to 100,300 economically disadvantaged students during the 2018-19 school year. Overall, the scholarship program served 100,300 students in 1,801 private schools throughout the state, and the mix is truly eclectic. The schools that have chosen to join the cause of helping underprivileged students run the gamut – everything from the seven-student Walden Middle School in Gulfport to the 1,807-student Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. The average school in the 2018-19 school year had 60 scholarship students.
A first-of-its-kind study on the long-term effects of the scholarship program by the Urban Institute found that scholarship students are up to 43 percent more likely to go to college and up to 29 percent more likely to earn an associates degree than their peers. Read the Urban Institute fact sheet here.
Learn more about the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship below or download the 2017-18 Fact Sheet here.
Lives near poverty: The average household income is $25,362, or 8.2 percent above poverty. The standard for free or reduced lunch in public schools is 185 percent of poverty.
Is black or Hispanic: Some 30 percent of students are black and 38 percent Hispanic. Roughly 26 percent are white and another 3 percent identify as multi-racial.
Lives with one parent: 55 percent of the scholarship children are from single-parent households.
Has struggled academically: A state-commissioned researcher has determined that scholarship students “tend to be among the lowest-performing students in their prior school, regardless of the performance level of their public school.”
$124.6 million is available for the Gardiner Scholarship in 2017-18. Step Up has awarded 11,307 scholarships so far. Scholarships are available on a rolling basis and are prorated quarterly.
Last year Step Up managed $105.3 million in education savings accounts for 9,601 students with unique abilities.
- 64.1 percent of students were diagnosed with autism
- 15.8 percent have an intellectual disability
- 6.7 percent were diagnosed as a “high-risk” child
- 4.6 percent have multiple disabilities
- 3 percent have cerebral palsy
- 2.4 percent have Down syndrome
- 3.4 percent were diagnosed with one of the other eligible disabilities such as Prader-Willi syndrome, spina bifida, and Williams Syndrome.
Basic Program Facts about the
Florida created the Hope Scholarship in 2018 to give bullied students a fresh start. This first-of-its-kind school choice program provides scholarships to students suffering from bullying at their prior public school. K-12 students who have reported an incident of harassment, hazing, bullying, robbery, sexual assault and more, may be eligible for a scholarship to attend a private school or a public school in a different school district.
The program is paid for by individual donors who receive a tax credit, up to $105, on their motor vehicle purchase taxes. Tax credits will be available to donors beginning October 1, 2018.
Scholarships are available to K-12 students on a first-come, first-served basis. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, students are eligible if they have reported an incident of battery, harassment, hazing, bullying, kidnapping, physical attack, robbery, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual battery, threat or intimidation, or fighting at school.
Applications will be made available later this year. Sign-up to learn more about the Hope Scholarship and to be notified when applications become available.
Basic Program Facts about the
In 2018 Florida became the first state in the country to offer an education savings account program for students enrolled in public schools. The Reading Scholarship was created to help public school students in grades 3 through 5 who struggle with reading. The program offers parents access to an educational savings account, worth $500, to pay for tuition and fees related to part-time tutoring, summer and after-school literacy programs, instructional materials and more.
Applications will be made available later this year. Sign-up to learn more about the Reading Scholarship and to be notified when applications become available.