HomeSchool Reform NewsFlorida's Two School Choice Scholarship Programs Break Participation Record

Florida’s Two School Choice Scholarship Programs Break Participation Record

(The Center Square) — The state of Florida says a record number of students are either participating or have applied to the state’s two school choice scholarship programs.

In a news release, Gov. Ron DeSantis stated that almost 430,000 scholarship applications had been received for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and the Family Empowerment Scholarship programs.

The release said that out of those applications, 407,000 scholarships had already been awarded to students.

“With our historic move to universal school choice, families in record numbers are choosing the best educational options for their children. I am proud of the work we have done so far, but we’re far from done — we will continue to empower parents and expand opportunities so that our students receive the best possible education,” DeSantis said in a news release.

School choice was expanded during the state’s 2023 legislative session with the passing of House Bill 1, which went into effect on July 1. The bill expanded eligibility for both scholarship programs by eliminating certain income restrictions and allowing any eligible student who is a Florida resident enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade to apply.

According to the news release, there are 250,000 more students in the scholarship programs than in 2022.

Data from EdChoice shows that students participating in the FES program have significantly increased each year since its inception in 2019. In total, 17,100 students participated in FES in 2020, this number grew to 33,842 students in 2021 and then again in 2022 by almost 50,000 to a total of 83,700 students.

The Florida Department of Education data shows that during the 2021-22 school year, 85,612 had enrolled in the FTC program at 1,990 participating Florida private schools. The DOE report also noted that around 73% of these students were minorities.

Both scholarship programs provide funds for tuition, fees, contracted services and school transportation. Funds can also be spent on curriculum and educational materials for students, including those being homeschooled.

On the record-breaking participation of students in the scholarship programs in 2023, Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. said in a news release that the expansion gave Florida students an opportunity to succeed.

“All parents want their children to receive a high-quality education and our historic expansion of school choice scholarships will allow students to have the best chance of academic success…I am proud our parents have the opportunity to choose life-changing educational options that foster student success,” Diaz said.

Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.

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 Andrew Powell
Andrew Powell
Andrew Powell is a Center Square contributor


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