The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) was signed into law on May 9, 2019 and became Florida’s sixth K-12 private school scholarship program since 1999. Like the McKay Scholarship, the FES is funded through the Florida Education Finance Plan (FEFP). The FEFP also funds district public schools as well as public charter schools. The new FES program was capped at 18,000 students for for the inaugural year. More than 17,000 students in its first year. For 2020-21, the FES program served 36,409 students.
For the 2021-22 school year, the Family Empowerment Scholarship will expand to include an Education Savings Account for children with unique abilities (or special needs) along with its existing option for K-12 private school. Students currently benefiting from a Gardiner Scholarship would roll into the Family Empowerment Scholarship for the 2021-22 school year after July 1 (as long as they have submitted their renewal application), as would any families that will be applying based on current Gardiner eligibility categories. The authorized uses of funds for this option remains the same as they are currently for Gardiner. Additionally, the new legislation will eliminate the prior public school attendance requirement for the Family Empowerment Scholarship.
For the 2022-23 school year, the McKay Scholarship program will be rolled into the Family Empowerment Scholarship. Students benefiting from the McKay Scholarship at that time will be transitioned to the Family Empowerment Scholarship.