Legislative Updates

What you need 
to know

New legislation (HB 1) passed that will affect Florida’s school choice programs. Signed by Governor DeSantis on March 27, these changes will go into effect on July 1, 2023.

We encourage you check back in the coming weeks for updates regarding the implementation of the legislative changes.
House Bill 1
Expands eligibility for all K-12 students, regardless of household income, and converts the scholarship into education savings accounts, or “ESAs”
Creates a new program called the Personalized Education Program, or "PEP", to serve Florida’s home education population who would like to use state scholarship funds in an education savings account to assist with the educational needs of their Personalized Education Students.

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Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) /
Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES-EO)

The new legislation expands the eligibility of the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) and Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES-EO) programs to allow K-12 students who are Florida residents to gain access to a scholarship, regardless of household income. Additionally, these programs will be converted into education savings accounts, or “ESAs” to allow for more flexibility in how funds are used by families.

Renewing families will continue to receive first priority. New families will be prioritized based on household income based on three tiers:

  • Students whose household income level does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level
  • Students whose household income level exceeds 185% of the federal poverty level but does not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level receive the third highest priority
  • Students whose household income exceeds 400% of the federal poverty level

The ESAs allow for more flexibility in how scholarship funds can be invested in their child’s education. The legislation expands the authorized uses of funds to include the following:

  • Instructional materials
  • Curriculum
  • Tuition & fees for:
    • Full-time or part-time enrollment in an eligible postsecondary institution or a program offered by a postsecondary institution
    • An approved pre-apprenticeship program
    • A private tutoring program
    • A virtual program from a Dept. of Education-approved private online provider
    • Florida Virtual School as a private pay student
    • An approved online course
  • Fees for:
    • Nationally standardized, norm-referenced achievements tests
    • Advanced Placement exams
    • Industry certification exams
    • Assessments related to postsecondary education, or
    • Other assessments
  • Contracted services provided by a public school or school district, including classes (subject to the school’s space and availability)
  • Tuition & fees for part-time tutoring services or fees for services provided by a choice navigator
    • “Choice navigators” provide consultations to students and families on
      • The selection of, application for, and enrollment in educational options addressing the academics needs of the student
      • Curriculum selection
      • Advice on career and postsecondary education opportunities
    • They must meet the same requirements as private tutors under FES
    • Choice navigators are not permitted to oversee or exercise control over the curricula or academic programs of a personalized education program
  • Allows all students who are eligible for FES-EO to use the transportation scholarship

Parents of scholarship students in full-time, private school must agree to have their Scholarship Funding Organization, or “SFO,” commit scholarship funds on behalf of their students for tuition and fees before using ESA funds for other authorized uses of program funds.  Additionally, an SFO may not transfer scholarship funds to a student’s account which already has a balance in excess of $24,000.

PEP is a new school choice offering under the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program established by this legislation. The program is similar to a home education program—in that the student’s instruction will be directed by their parent—with some additional requirements:

    • Up to 20,000 students may be funded under PEP for the 2023-2024 school year. That number may increase by 40,000 students each year through July 1, 2027—after which there is no restriction on how many students may be funded under PEP.
    • Parents of PEP students must apply to an SFO for the student to participate in the program and annually sign a sworn compliance statement in which they agree that:
      • Parents will annually submit a Student Learning Plan, or “SLP,” to their student’s SFO before the student’s first year in PEP and before funding is renewed each year thereafter.
      • Parents will require their students to take a nationally norm-referenced test identified by the Florida Department of Education or a statewide assessment. Test scores must be annually reported to the student’s SFO before their scholarship can be renewed.

Family Empowerment Scholarship
for Unique Abilities (FES-UA)

  • Expands Authorized Uses of Program Funds under FES-UA. Students with unique abilities who qualify for an ESA may use their funds for the following OPTIONAL additional purposes:
    • An approved pre-apprenticeship program.
    • Fees for services provided by a choice navigator.
      • “Choice navigators” provide consultations to students and families on:
        • The selection of, application for, and enrollment in educational options addressing the academics needs of the student
        • Curriculum selection
        • Advice on career and postsecondary education opportunities
  • A scholarship funding organization may not transfer scholarship funds to a student’s account which already has a balance in excess of $50,000.
  • Allows for nonpublic students without an Individual Education Plan, or “IEP,” to have their matrix of services completed using evaluation reports and plans of care developed by approved providers or a hospital that offers authorized specialized services.
  • Before enrolling a student, private schools must discuss the school’s academic programs and policies, specialized services, code of conduct, and attendance policies with the parent to determine which programs and services may meet the student's individual needs.
  • Private schools must include on their school website a statement that a parentally placed private school student with a disability does not have an individual right to receive some or all of the special education and related services that the student would receive if enrolled in a public school under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended.
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