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Limitations of Florida’s Step Up Scholarship

Florida’s step-up scholarship enables parents to select an educational environment that best serves their child’s individual needs, which can be especially helpful to families living on limited means who depend on these scholarships to find their ideal school environment.

Parents seeking state scholarships through Step Up for Students must undergo an exhaustive application process and submit relevant documents in order to be considered for a state scholarship award. Priority is given to families at or below 185% of the federal poverty line as well as foster children and those with disabilities. Step Up also offers various learning options including traditional private schools, magnet and charter schools as well as homeschooling through an education savings account.

However, Step Up for Students does have its share of limitations in terms of its availability and efficiency. One major drawback of the program is that it only serves a limited number of students every year compared to state’s two largest scholarships – Gardiner Scholarship and Robinson Scholarship which both grant up to 75,000 awards yearly each; Step Up for Students targets low-income families more narrowly while only providing awards to fewer families than these programs can.

Due to its limited reach and its reliance on state funds, corporate contributions, and individual donations for funding purposes, the program relies heavily on finding sustainable funding sources in order to expand it and support more students while maintaining stability and improving educational impact. Finding suitable funding may involve seeking partnerships with philanthropic organizations or fundraising campaigns as well as exploring potential private-sector collaboration opportunities.

Some parents have also voiced concerns over Kirtley’s interpretation of “eligible instructional materials.” For instance, complaints have surfaced that families used vouchers to purchase large screen televisions, gaming consoles and amusement park tickets; Kirtley asserts these items will only be approved if necessary for instruction (for instance a child with vision loss may require the larger screen for class lessons).

Families have reported lengthy waits for scholarship payments this year. Step Up for Students has explained that changes to law required additional steps, which delayed distribution. They maintained they met deadlines as set out in legislation, though acknowledged it may have been frustrating for some families.

Even with its limitations, the program remains an integral part of state education landscape and has helped close achievement gaps between high- and low-income students. For the program to remain efficient and effective in serving the people it serves efficiently and effectively, transparency must be increased through providing clear information to prospective applicants as well as policies in line with state laws.

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