Florida created the income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship in 2001 to give students one learning option that is not available to them because of their financial circumstances. It allows them to consider whether a private school might be a better fit academically.
Step Up awarded scholarships, averaging between $6,673 to $7,169 depending on grade and county of residence, to 102,969 economically disadvantaged students during the 2020-21 school year. Overall, the scholarship program served 104,162 students in 1,934 private schools throughout the state, and the mix is truly eclectic. 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 2020-21 school year had 56 scholarship students.
A first-of-its-kind study on the long-term effects of the scholarship program by the Urban Institute found that scholarship students are up to 43 percent more likely to go to college and up to 29 percent more likely to earn an associates degree than their peers. Read the Urban Institute fact sheet here.
Learn more about the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship below or download the 2020-21 fact sheet here.
Lives near poverty: The average household income is $32,368, or 12 percent above poverty. The standard for free or reduced lunch in public schools is 185 percent of poverty.
Is black or Hispanic: Some 29 percent of students are black and 38 percent Hispanic. Roughly 26 percent are white and another 3 percent identify as multi-racial.
Lives with one parent: 55 percent of the scholarship children are from single-parent households.
Has struggled academically: A state-commissioned researcher has determined that scholarship students “tend to be among the lowest-performing students in their prior school, regardless of the performance level of their public school.”