This program allows purchasers of motor vehicles to contribute their vehicle sales tax to fund private school scholarships. Hope Scholarships may be used by students who are victims of bullying or are physically attacked in school. These students may also transfer to other public school districts. The program was enacted in 2018, and scholarship-funding organizations will begin awarding scholarships for the 2018–19 school year. Learn more about the Hope Scholarship Program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations and more.
Florida’s fourth educational choice program
Nation’s first program specifically for students who are victims of bullying or violence
23rd tax-credit scholarship program nationwide
Limited to students who are victims of bullying or are physically attacked in public schools
Maximum value: $6,700 (2017–18)
Maximum value as a percentage of state’s public school per-student spending: 96 percent
Purchasers of motor vehicles in Florida may donate their sales tax to scholarship-funding organizations (SFOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships victims of bullying and violence in public schools.
Beginning in October, purchasers of motor vehicles in Florida may direct up to $105 per vehicle purchased to Hope Scholarships, not to exceed the total state sales tax of the purchase. Taxes applied to leases or rentals are not eligible for Hope Scholarship contributions, nor are those paid for heavy trucks, trailers, tractor trailers and motorcycles. The program is capped at $41 million for the 2018–19 fiscal year.
Scholarship-funding organizations (SFOs) must fund scholarships at a rate of Florida’s unweighted fulltime equivalent amount (FTE). Students in grades K–12 receive 85 percent of this amount ($5,778). Those in grades 6–8 receive 92 percent ($6,254). High school students in grades 9–12 receive 96 percent ($6,700).
Students who use the program to transfer to an out-of-district public school are eligible for transportation reimbursement up to $750. Scholarship-funding organizations will award scholarships on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority granted to renewing students. SFOs may use up to 3 percent of contributions for administrative purposes.
Students in grades K–12 who are victims of bullying or violence in public district schools are eligible for Hope Scholarships. Public school officials must notify parents of bullying victims of Hope Scholarship eligibility after the parent reports a qualifying incident to school officials. Qualifying incidents include battery, harassment, hazing, bullying, kidnapping, physical attack, robbery, sexual offenses, threat and intimidation, assault and fighting in school.
Qualifying incidents may occur within a school building, on school property, at any school-related or school-sponsored program or activity, while riding the bus or while waiting at a bus stop. Students attending public charter schools are not eligible.
Students must be Florida residents. Students who receive other scholarships from a Florida SFO are not eligible for Hope Scholarships.
Florida is already home to the nation’s largest tax-credit scholarship program, which is available to students from low- and middle-income families. The Hope Scholarship Program further expands choice in Florida to victims of bullying and abuse, regardless of household income. The scholarships not only provide an immediate escape hatch for bullied students, but they also create a strong incentive for schools to speedily and satisfactorily address any bullying problems. The program requires scholarship-accepting schools to have state approval and administer a nationally norm-referenced test to scholarship students, but avoids unnecessary regulations. Hope Scholarships are an important step on the road to universal choice.
FL Ch. 2018.006 1002.40
No legal challenges have been filed against this program.