Today, Governor Ron DeSantis added Florida to the list of states expanding educational opportunities for all students, expanding the Family Empowerment Scholarship program to include all students. His signature marks the fourth state to enact a universal education savings account in 2023.
“Florida lawmakers from both sides of the aisle came together to show that doing what’s best for students and giving them every opportunity they deserve transcends politics and is something we all can support,” said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of EdChoice, which has been working in Florida along with numerous local groups since 1999. “Importantly, Florida lawmakers show that even states with existing school choice programs in operation shouldn’t rest until those opportunities are available for all.”
Between its existing voucher, tax-credit scholarship, and ESA programs, Florida has the highest number of students attending non-public school options. With the expansion of the Family Empowerment Scholarship into an ESA program, more than 3 million students in the sunshine state will now have access to the funds and flexibility necessary to access the learning environment that meets their unique strengths and needs. Enrolled students will have access to an ESA of approximately $7,300 annually to be spent on approved educational expenses, such as tuition and curriculum.
Florida follows Iowa, Utah, and Arkansas, which all enacted new ESA programs this session with universal eligibility. With the addition of Florida, 11 states now have ESA programs, six of which are available to at least 90 percent of students. Lawmakers in Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and beyond are also considering educational choice proposals this session.
“More than ever before, parents are demanding the ability to customize where and how their children learn, and lawmakers are listening,” Enlow continued. “State leaders recognize that learning can happen anywhere, and are taking bold steps to make Milton Friedman’s vision of investing in individual students rather than an antiquated system a reality.”
Arizona and West Virginia paved the way for states to create universal programs, and both have withstood legal and political challenges. Such programs are popular with parents and the broader electorate. EdChoice’s monthly public opinion tracker, conducted in partnership with Morning Consult, consistently finds about two-thirds of the public and school parents support ESAs.
To speak with Robert Enlow, or an EdChoice scholar, about the Florida program, ESA trends and legislation, or existing educational choice programs across the country, contact Chantal Lovell at Chantal@edchoice.org, or 989-251-8388.
EdChoice is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to empower every family to choose the learning environment that fits their children’s needs best. Learn more at edchoice.org