Florida Income-Based Scholarships Give K-12 Students Educational Options
Scholarship Fast Facts
2021-22 Fast Facts:
85,510 students enrolled on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC).
78,220 students enrolled on Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES-EO).
212 students with transportation scholarships.
Average household income of $37,730 for a family of four.
65% Black or Hispanic.
55% of students live in single-parent households.
2,048 participating private schools.
Download the Florida Income-Based Scholarships Fact Sheet ›
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) and the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES-EO)
Florida’s two income-based scholarship programs, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program and the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES-EO) give students learning options not available to them because of their financial circumstances.
Both programs provide private school scholarships or help with transportation costs to an out-of-district public school.
Urban Institute Study
A first-of-its-kind student on the long-term effects of the scholarship program found that FTC scholarship students are up to 43 percent more likely to go to college and up to 29 percent more likely to earn an associate's degree. See fact sheet here.
Step Up awarded scholarships, averaging between $7,250 to $7,850 depending on grade and county of residence, to 93,141 economically disadvantaged students during the 2022-23 school year. 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 2022-23 school year had 56 scholarship students.
The Typical Student
Working class families
Black or Hispanic
Lives with one parent
Has struggled academically
The Typical School
Small in size
Serves mostly private-paying students
Serves elementary students
Transparency and Legal Requirements
The scholarship is only for low-income students
Scholarship students are tested
Academic gains are measured and reported
Scholarship money is monitored
The History of Choice in Florida
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program Law
Florida Statutes Section 1002.395: “The Legislature finds that: Ensuring that all parents, regardless of means, may exercise and enjoy their basic right to educate their children as they see fit is a valid public purpose that the Legislature may promote using its sovereign power to determine subjects of taxation and exemptions from taxation. Expanding educational opportunities and the healthy competition they promote are critical to improving the quality of education in the state and to ensuring that all children receive the high-quality education to which they are entitled.”
Since its creation in 2001, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship has undergone a continuing series of revisions that have expanded the program and strengthened accountability measures.
Read more about program rules and accountability here.
The Impact on the Florida Budget
- For fiscal year 2008-2009, the scholarship program saved taxpayers $36.2 million and,
- For every $1 lost to tax credits, the state saved $1.44. “While the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program reduces the amount of tax revenues received by the state, it produces a net fiscal benefit,” the report found, “This occurs because education spending for students receiving scholarships is reduced by more than the amount of revenue lost.”