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How the Income-Based Scholarship Works

Nearly 480,000 scholarships have been provided to low-income Florida students in grades K-12 since 2002. Could your child be next?

In 2001, the Florida Legislature created the income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program to assure that low-income children have more learning options. The scholarships are based on financial need, not how well your child does in school. Families may choose between financial assistance toward private school tuition and fees, or with transportation costs to attend a public school in another district.

Both the private school scholarship and the transportation scholarship have the same eligibility and application process.

Applications are processed in the order they are received (including all supporting documentation) and scholarships are awarded with priority given to renewal families followed by new families with the greatest financial need. Scholarships can be transferred to other eligible schools if the student moves within the state, or simply wants to attend a different Step Up partner school.

Please note, checks are sent directly to the school in which the enrolled child is attending, and are never sent directly to any individuals.

Private school scholarship: Pays up to $5,886 for the 2016-2017 school year toward the following school expenses, in this order until the maximum is reached:

  1. Tuition
  2. Books**
  3. Registration
  4. Transportation
  5. Uniforms**
  6. Testing
  7. Other

** Applicable for books and uniforms sold by the school, not a third party vendor.

Transportation Scholarship: With the income-based transportation scholarship, families can choose $500 scholarship to assist with the cost of transportation to another public school. The public school must be out of the student’s assigned district. Also, the student must have permission from the district in which the student resides and the district in which the student wants to attend. (Step Up will need documentation of the approval by both districts before being able to award the scholarship.)

Please note: Applications are processed in the order they are received, including all supporting documentation. Scholarships are awarded with a priority given to renewal families followed by new families with the greatest financial need.

Students who qualify will receive financial assistance toward either private school tuition and fees or transportation to a public school in another county/district.

Eligibility/Priority Criteria:

  • Age Eligibility:
    • Students entering Kindergarten must be 5 on or before Sept. 1.
    • Students entering first grade must be 6 on or before Sept.1.
  • Income Eligibility:
    • If a member of the household receives SNAP (food stamps), TANF, or FDPIR, the student may qualify.
    • If the household income qualifies for free or reduce-priced lunch, the student may qualify.
    • If the household income is at/or below the income criteria found in the chart below titled “Eligibility Chart”, the student may qualify.
  • Priority:
    Scholarships are awarded with priority given to renewal families followed by new families with the greatest financial need. If the household income is more than the income criteria on the chart below titled ‘Priority’, the student, while eligible, will be placed on a waiting list until all renewal families and new families whose income is below the amounts on the ‘Priority’ chart have received funding. If, at that time, funds are still available, students on the waiting list will be awarded in the order their applications were received, including all supporting documentation.

Eligibility Chart

Eligibility: If the household income is at or below the following criteria, the student may be eligible for a scholarship:

Number of people in household Total gross monthly household income for a 100% scholarship Monthly maximum income for an 88% scholarship Monthly maximum income for a 74% scholarship Monthly maximum income for a 60% scholarship Monthly maximum income for a 50% scholarship
1 $1,980 $2,129 $2,277 $2,426 $2,574
2 $2,670 $2,871 $3,071 $3,271 $3,471
3 $3,360 $3,612 $3,864 $4,116 $4,368
4 $4,050 $4,354 $4,658 $4,962 $5,265
5 $4,740 $5,096 $5,451 $5,807 $6,162

See income guidelines  for families with more than 5 people in the household.

Priority Chart

Priority: If the household income is more than the income criteria on the chart below titled ‘Priority’, the student, while eligible, will be placed on a waiting list until all renewal families and new families whose income is below the amounts on the ‘Priority’ chart have received funding.

Number of people in household Awarded first (185% of Federal Poverty Level or below)
1 $1,832
2 $2,470
3 $3,108
4 $3,747
5 $4,385
  • A child who is homeless and is entering kindergarten must be 5 on or before Sept. 1.
  • A child who is homeless and is entering first grade must be 6 on or before Sept. 1.

The family must provide documentation to validate the child’s homeless status.* Acceptable documentation includes: A letter/document on letterhead written and signed by the homeless liaison in the public school district to which the child is assigned or by the Owner/Executive Director of the shelter or transitional housing facility of which the family resides.

Documentation must include:
1. Child’s name
2. Effective date(s)
3. Signature of the local educational liaison or the director of the homeless shelter.

*There is no income threshold for homeless students to qualify.

A student who is/was placed at any time in foster care or out-of-home care during the current OR previous state fiscal year may be eligible (The state fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.).

A child in foster care is defined by the following:
“Foster care” means care provided a child in a foster family or boarding home, group home, agency boarding home, child care institution, or any combination thereof, as defined by s. 39.01(29).

A child in out-of-home care placement is defined by the following:
“Out-of-home” means a placement outside of the home of the parents or a parent, as defined by s. 39.01(48).

“Out-of-Home Care” means the placement of a child in licensed and non-licensed settings, arranged and supervised by the department or contracted service provider, outside of the home of the parent, as defined by DCF Rule: 65C-30.001 Definitions. (91).

These students may apply at any time during the school year. If you are interested in applying for the 2016-2017 school year, please call us at 877-735-7837 and we’ll help you get started. If you believe that any child in your care may be eligible, and if you have any questions, please call the contact center as each situation is different.

Required documents
Kindergarten or 1st grade Foster care
  • Birth certificate or passport.
  • A copy of foster care placement paperwork.
  • A copy of the current foster care provider license issued by DCF.
Out of home care Group home
  • The court order signed by the judge  and/or DCF placement paperwork
  • The administrator or director should complete the application for the student and submit the required paperwork.

 


Apply now

NEW FAMILIES: If you are a new family interested in the income-based scholarship for the 2017-18 school year, please click here to sign up for our interest list to receive updates on when you may apply. We expect to begin accepting new applications in late winter/early spring.

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