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Florida – Personal Learning Scholarship Account Program


Florida – Personal Learning Scholarship Account Program

Florida’s Personal Learning Scholarship Account Program was enacted and launched in 2014. The program utilizes education savings accounts to help parents of students with special needs customize their education. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history, and more.

Program Fast Facts

  • America’s second education savings accounts program

  • 1,627 participating students (2014–15)

  • 12 percent of students eligible statewide

  • 174 participating schools (2014–15)

  • Average account value: $10,111 (2014–15 projected)

  • Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 120 percent

Program Details

Percent of Florida K–12 students eligible for Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts

Click the + symbols to learn more about this program’s details.

Florida’s Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA) program provides parents funds to pay for a variety of educational services for their children, including private school tuition, tutoring, online education, curriculum, therapy, post-secondary educational institutions in Florida, and other defined educational services.

Student Funding

The maximum amount for the PLSA is equivalent to 90 percent of the state and local funds reflected in the state funding formula that would have gone to the student had he or she attended public school.

Student Eligibility

Students qualify if they reside in Florida and are eligible to enroll in kindergarten through 12th grade. They must have an Individualized Education Plan or have been diagnosed with one of the following: autism, Down syndrome, an intellectual disability, Prader-Willi syndrome, spina-bifida, or Williams syndrome, or be kindergartners who are considered high-risk.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Account Cap: 90 percent of state and local funds reflected in the state funding formula and categorical grants for students with special needs
  • Testing Mandates: State or National
  • *Limited to students with special needs, those diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, an intellectual disability, Prader-Willi syndrome, spina-bifida, or Williams syndrome, and kindergartners who are considered high-risk
  • Parent Requirements:
    • Must sign an agreement to:
      • Enroll the student in a school or program that meets minimum student attendance requirements
      • Use program funds only for authorized purposes, according to the goals and objectives identified in the student’s individual learning service plan, including:
        • Instructional materials
        • Curriculum
        • Specialized services by approved providers, including applied behavior analysis services, services provided by speech-language pathologists, occupational therapy services, services provided by physical therapists, services provided by listening and spoken language specialists and an appropriate acoustical environment for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing and who has received an implant or assistive hearing device
        • Enrollment in, or associated tuition or fees associated with enrollment in, an eligible private school, an eligible postsecondary educational institution, an authorized private tutoring program, a virtual program offered by an approved private online provider, or an approved online course
        • Fees for nationally standardized, norm-referenced achievement tests, Advanced Placement examinations, industry certification examinations, assessments related to postsecondary education, or other assessments specified in the student’s individual learning service plan
        • Contributions to a Coverdell education savings account
        • Contributions to the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Program
        • Contracted services provided by a public school or school district
      • Ensure student takes the state assessment test or a nationally standardized, norm-referenced achievement test and any other required assessments
      • Notify the local school district that the student is participating in the program
      • Request participation in the program at least 60 days before the date of the first program payment
      • Affirm that the student remains in good standing with the provider or school (if either option is selected)
      • Apply for admission to a private school (if private school option is selected)
      • Annually renew participation in the program
      • Be responsible for the payment of all eligible expenses over the PLSA amount
      • Affirm that any college savings funds will not be transferred to another beneficiary
      • Affirm that they will not take possession of any funding contributed by the state
      • Maintain a portfolio of records and materials, which must be preserved for two years and be made available for inspection by the district superintendent or their designee upon 15 days written notice, consisting of:
        • A log of educational instruction and services, which is made contemporaneously with delivery of the instruction and services and which designates any reading materials used
        • Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student

Governing Statutes

Legal History

In December 2014, a judge dismissed the Florida Education Association’s (FEA) lawsuit challenging Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program and Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts program. The original lawsuit was filed by the FEA to challenge a newly enacted law that includes an education savings account (ESA) for students with special needs—called the Personal Learning Scholarship Account—along with an expansion of the existing Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The FEA contends the law violates a state constitutional requirement that each piece of legislation be limited to a single subject. In September 2014, a Florida judge dismissed the original FEA lawsuit after finding that the plaintiff did not have legal standing to sue. The FEA filed an amended complaint and added new plaintiffs to a lawsuit. The amended complaint contends public schools have lost funding because of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, and that the law containing the school choice programs violates a state constitutional requirement that each piece of legislation be limited to a single subject. On December 30, 2014, the judge dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds the new plaintiffs did not have standing to sue.

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