Tax Credit Scholarship: The Record of Performance

The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for low-income students, now in the 16th year of operation, has demonstrated consistent growth and progress. The program attracts among the poorest and lowest performing students from district public schools, and yet those same students now keep pace with students of all income levels on standardized tests. We know parents rate the scholarship program with extraordinary satisfaction and it saves the state millions of dollars each year that can be put toward other educational programs.


2017-18 School Year

107,095 scholarship students
1,801 participating schools
69 percent of schools are faith-based
63 percent of students are in grades K-5
55 percent of students in single-adult households
10 above poverty (average household income was $25,362)

2017-18 Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Fact Sheet

typical-school-bible-truthC5BF959541BEEvaluation of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, Participation, Compliance and Test Scores in 2012-13, August 2014 state Department of Education report found that, “…the typical student participating in the program gained a year’s worth of learning in a year’s worth of time. It is important to note that these national comparisons pertain to all students nationally, and not just low-income students.”

The report also notes that those who choose the scholarship were struggling academically at their previous school, a pattern that is “becoming stronger” over time.

Scholarship participants have significantly poorer test performance in the year prior to starting the scholarship program than do non-participants. These differences are large in magnitude and are statistically significant, and indicate that scholarship participants tend to be considerably more disadvantaged and lower-performing upon entering the program than their non-participating counterparts.

A recent report from the Urban Institute also discovered that scholarship students were more likely to attend college.

Academic Results
Long-Term Impact

Shawnay GlennMarch 2009 survey of 1,994 households, June 2010 state Department of Education report:

1) The report found a 95.4 percent approval rating among participating parents. Of that total, 75.1 percent said their schools were “excellent” and 20.3 percent said they were “good.”

2) Low-income parents with children in public schools were one-third as likely to rank their schools excellent and 13 times more likely to rate their schools as poor.

Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program Fiscal Year 2008-2009 Fiscal Impact, March 2010 State Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability report

1) For fiscal year 2008-2009, the scholarship program saved taxpayers $36.2 million.

2) 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. This occurs because education spending for students receiving scholarships is reduced by more than the amount of revenue lost.”

Cost Savings Fact Sheet

May 2010 report: Competitive Effects of Means-Tested School Vouchers, by Northwestern University economics and social policy professor David Figlio:

1) The creation of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship in 2001 led immediately to academic improvements in public schools that were the most likely to lose students to a learning alternative.

2) Learning gains were the largest in the public schools with the greatest number of nearby private schools and those with the greatest incentives to keep federal money received based on the number of lower-income students. “Our results indicate that the increased competitive pressure faced by public schools associated with the introduction of Florida’s FTC Scholarship Program led to general improvements in public school performance.

Our Students:

  • Nearly 70 percent of the scholarship students are African-American or Hispanic
  • The average student lives in a household earning $25,362 a year, or just 10 above poverty
  • 55 percent live with only one parent
  • They ranked among the lowest-performing students in the public schools they left behind

Gardiner Scholarship: Summary of Progress

SUFS Dreams_CMYK_2560x1500The Gardiner Scholarship program is a unique program for children with special needs. The scholarship allows parents to personalize the education of their children by directing money toward a combination of programs and approved providers. Florida became the second state in the nation, after Arizona, to create an education savings account program for children with special needs in 2014.

Florida’s newest school choice program began enrolling students less than two months after being signed into law. More than 1,500 students received scholarships in the inaugural 2014-15 school year. This year the program is serving more than 10,000.


$105.3 million is available for the Gardiner Scholarship in 2017-18 including rollover of surplus funds from last year. Scholarships are available on a rolling basis and are prorated quarterly. As of February 2018, Step Up has funded 9,543 scholarships.

Step Up managed the scholarship accounts of 9,543 students and AAA Scholarships served an additional 644 for the 2015-16 school year. In all, $47.3 million in scholarships were awarded.

For 2017-18:

  • 63 percent of students were diagnosed with autism
  • 15 percent have an intellectual disability
  • 7 percent were diagnosed as a “high-risk” child
  • 4 percent have multiple disabilities
  • 3 percent have cerebral palsy,
  • 2 percent have Down syndrome
  • 4 percent were diagnosed with one of the other eligible disabilities such as Prader-Willi syndrome, spina bifida, and Williams Syndrome.

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