Florida Step-up Scholarship is a legislatively authorized education scholarship program designed to allow low- and middle-income Florida families to choose the educational environment that best meets their children’s learning needs. It helps cover tuition at private schools, transportation to school of choice or supplement tutoring/textbook costs in public schools; additionally it assists eligible students who cannot participate in special education classes due to specific disabilities as well as those struggling with reading at school.
As Florida has seen an explosion of school choice scholarships, so have the challenges for Step Up for Students, the nonprofit charged with overseeing them. They have been besieged with requests for funding which have overwhelmed them this year and caused delivery to be delayed significantly.
State auditors have leveled allegations of mismanagement and even fraud against this group, but its president Doug Tuthill insists the issues have been fixed and he expects everything to run smoothly at the start of a new school year. “System business rules were reviewed, staffing issues addressed and employees received training,” according to his letter of August 26 to state auditors.
The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship or Family Empowerment Scholarship provides scholarships to children who would otherwise remain stuck in underperforming public schools, such as bullying victims or those with disabilities that prevent them from learning. Parents applying for these awards must demonstrate financial need; there are only limited slots available.
Step Up for Students has launched its Personalized Education Program (PEP), providing children with an education savings account to fund their educational needs – money which may be spent on both in-home learning academies as well as online options. Applications are being accepted now!
Home-schooling has become an increasingly popular option for Florida parents. But home-schooling can be costly, and not every family may have the means to make it work.
Step Up for Students has joined with Monarch Homeschool to offer homeschooling families an innovative means of receiving funding – an income-based scholarship will be made available starting with the 2021-22 school year.
Families interested in this unique opportunity should sign up for the interest list by clicking here, which will notify them as soon as applications for income-based scholarships become available. Those already receiving Florida Tax Credit or Family Empowerment scholarships should log into their accounts to renew them now, or check the website often to get updates on new applications pending review and new families should stay tuned for further updates in coming weeks.