Legislative Updates

2022 LEGISLATIVE SESSION - What to know

The 2022 Legislative session ended on March 14, 2022. Passed bills will move to the desk of Governor DeSantis for his review and signature. Once signed, these bills become law and will take effect on July 1, 2022. These changes are as follows:  

Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC) / Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES-EO) 
  • Improvement to the funding process for students benefiting from the Family Empowerment Scholarships for Educational Options (FES-EO): Currently, students benefiting from the FES-EO program must, by law, go through a “cross-check” process with the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) to ensure students are not enrolled in another scholarship program or in public school before funding is released. Senate Bill 2524 would allow for the cross-check to happen after funds have been distributed so that funding can be received in a timelier manner. PLEASE NOTE: If a funded scholarship student is found to be enrolled in another scholarship program or in public school, the student’s scholarship may be impacted. 

  • Dependents of Law Enforcement Officers are now eligible, regardless of income: House Bill 3 will allow the dependents of law enforcement officers to qualify for the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES-EO), regardless of income. A law enforcement officer is defined as someone who is elected, appointed, or employed full time by a municipality, county, or the state, who is vested with the authority to bear arms and make arrests. For the full definition please visit s. 943.10, F.S. here. These students do not count against the enrollment cap.

    *Scholarship award amounts for the FTC/FES-EO private school option have not yet been determined.

Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA) 
  • More students with unique abilities will receive scholarships: The Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA) serves students ages 3-22 (or 12th grade, whichever comes first) with at least one of the qualifying diagnoses. Senate Bill 2524 would allow the program cap to increase to 26,500 students for the 2022-23 school year, which is 6,500 more students than the 2021-22 school year. There are also additional categories of students who do not count against the cap. House Bill 3 adds eligible dependent children of law enforcement officers as an exemption of the cap.

  • Improvement to the funding process for students benefiting from the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA): Currently, students benefiting from the FES-UA program must, by law, go through a “cross-check” process with the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) to ensure students are not enrolled in another scholarship program or in public school before funding is released. Senate Bill 2524 would allow for the cross-check to happen after so that funding can be received in a timelier manner. PLEASE NOTE: If a funded scholarship student is found to be enrolled in another scholarship program or in public school, the student’s scholarship may be impacted.

Reading Scholarship Accounts
  • Expansion of who qualifies for the Reading Scholarship Account: The Reading Scholarship Account program will be renamed the “New Worlds Reading Scholarship Accounts.” The program which currently serves public school students in grades 3-5 who have a substantial reading deficiency or scored below a Level 3 on the statewide ELA assessment in the prior school year, will expand to serves grades K-5.  

Transportation Scholarship Families (FTC and FES-EO Programs)
  • Potential increase in scholarship award amount for the transportation option: The transportation option award will be $750 or the value of the local school district’s per-pupil expenditure on transportation, whichever is greater.

Care Provider Background Screening Clearinghouse
  • Centralized background screening: Under Senate Bill 2524, the Care Provider Background Screening Clearinghouse will centralize the background screening process and allow criminal history background checks to be provided to qualified entities, including private schools who accept scholarship students.

Again, these bills are awaiting signature by Gov. DeSantis in order to take effect on July 1, 2022. More details will be shared as they become available. Please continue to check back for updates.


2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION - What to know

On May 11, 2021, Governor DeSantis signed legislation that expanded access to education choice scholarships. These changes went into effect on July 1, 2021. 

The 2021 legislation allowed more families than ever to be eligible for a scholarship.

Following is a list of students eligible as of July 1, 2021 and next steps they may take:

  • Students of families with higher income (i.e. $111,000 for a family of 4) – CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
  • Siblings of students who receive the Family Empowerment Scholarship – CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE 
  • Dependent children of a member of the United States Armed Forces, including Reservists – CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE 
  • Students with one of the following diagnoses: speech impairment; language impairment; orthopedic impairment; other health impairment; emotional or behavioral disability; or specific learning disability, including but not limited to dyslexia, dyscalculia, or developmental aphasiaCLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

Note: Students currently enrolled in private school are now eligible for a Family Empowerment Scholarship, too!

The 2021 legislation consolidated the number of scholarship programs by rolling the Gardiner Scholarship and McKay Scholarship into the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities. This change is happening in two phases:

For the 2021-22 school year, the Family Empowerment Scholarship expanded 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 who benefited from a Gardiner Scholarship for the 2020-21 school year were rolled into the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA) for the 2021-22 school year. The authorized uses of funds for this option remained the same as they were for the program formerly known as Gardiner. Additionally, the 2021 legislation eliminated the prior public school attendance requirement for the Family Empowerment Scholarship private school and transportation option.

For the 2022-23 school year, the McKay Scholarship program will be rolled into the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities. Students benefiting from the McKay Scholarship for the 2021-22 school year will transition to the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities for the 2022-23 school year. If your student is benefiting from the McKay Scholarship for the 2021-22 school year, please click here to learn more about the transition. 

 

Updated as of 3.23.2022