Florida Tax Credit Scholarship
Florida Tax Credit Scholarship enrollment by grade level, 2020-21
Official enrollment figures for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship are in. According to the September 2020 quarterly report, released this week by the Florida Department of Education, 100,008 students enrolled in the program for the 2020-21 school year.
The program, which relies on private corporate donations that receive 100 percent state tax credits, is available to low-income and working-class students in Florida. Approximately 74% of scholarship students are non-white, and 55% live in single-parent households. The average annual family income of scholarship students is about $33,000.
As with past years, the majority of students (58,535) are enrolled in grades K-5, where tuition costs are often the lowest.
This year, 1,899 private schools across 64 Florida counties enrolled students in the FTC program. Of those schools, 66% identified as a religious school. Miami-Dade County enrolled the most students – 23,344. Calhoun, Holmes and Union counties had no participating private schools, while Calhoun and Liberty counties had no participating students.
This year’s September enrollment figure is 22 students fewer than the September 2019 report (which was 100,030). At the same time, enrollment in a similar program, the Florida Empowerment Scholarship, has doubled. According to a Florida Department of Education spokesperson, the FES program increased from fewer than 18,000 students at the end of 2019-20, its first year, to 36,161 students this year.
Like the FTC, the FES is geared toward low-income and working-class students. The FES is funded directly by the state and the household income threshold is roughly $10,000 higher. This year, a family of four could qualify for the FES program if its household income was lower than $78,600, whereas the FTC program caps eligibility at $68,120 for a family of four.
DeSantis considering college students’ ‘bill of rights,’ court limits liability, scholarships and more
Florida private schools rocked by the pandemic and low-income families who use state school choice scholarships will receive $45 million in federal relief funding, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday.
The money is part of $173.6 million Florida is receiving through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which in turn is part of the $944 million in K-12 relief the state is getting from the massive assistance package Congress passed in March.
DeSantis is setting aside $30 million as a safety net for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which serves 100,000 lower-income students and is the biggest private school choice program in the country. The scholarships are funded by corporate contributions, which could slow as the recession continues.
(The program is administered by nonprofits like Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog.)
The governor also is putting $15 million towards “private school stabilization grant funds” that hard-hit private schools can apply for. The grants will be limited to schools where 50 percent or more of students use choice scholarships. The grant pot will grow if there is money left over from the $30 million set aside for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship.
For a little more on both proposals, go to pages 128-29 here.
The assistance for Florida private schools was rolled into a Thursday announcement that focused on steps for re-opening schools in the fall and how the rest of the federal K-12 relief would be spent.
While the $45 million is a small percentage of the total $944 million package for K-12, it will be a lifeline for some private schools. Some are at risk of significant enrollment loss, if not closure, and nearly 6 in 10 said in an April survey that they were worried about their viability for the coming school year.