Florida – Hope Scholarship Program - EdChoice

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Florida – Hope Scholarship Program

Florida – Hope Scholarship Program

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 and launched in 2018. Learn more about the Hope Scholarship Program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations and more.

Program Fast Facts

  • 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

  • 271 participating students (Fall 2019)

  • 83 percent of students eligible statewide

  • 1 scholarship organization (2019–20)

  • Limited to students who are victims of bullying or are physically attacked in public schools

  • Maximum value: $7,112 (2018–19

  • Maximum value as a percentage of state’s public school per-student spending: 78 percent

Program Details

Percent of Florida students eligible for the Hope Scholarship Program

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

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.

Student Funding

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.

Scholarship-funding organizations must fund scholarships using a rate of Florida’s unweighted full-time equivalent amount. Students in grades K–5 receive 85 percent of this amount ($6,519). Those in grades 6–8 receive 92 percent ($6,815). High school students in grades 9–12 receive 96 percent ($7,112). Students who use the program to transfer to an out-of-district public school are eligible for transportation reimbursement up to $750. SFOs 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.

Student Eligibility

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 about their 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.

EdChoice Expert Feedback

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. Though any victim of a qualified incident who meets these criteria may be eligible for a Hope Scholarship, national rates indicate as few as one in four K–12 students experience bullying, thus potentially limiting an otherwise expansive eligibility rate. 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.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Yes
  • Geographic Limit: None
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Scholarship Cap: Up to 96 percent unweighted FTE ($7,112 in 2019–20)
  • Testing Mandates: National
  • Credit Value: 100 percent
  • Total Credit Cap: $105 (per vehicle)
  • Budget Cap: None

SFO Requirements

  • Use at least 97 percent of contributions for scholarships
  • Notify parents of receipt of scholarship on first-come, first-served basis
  • Establish a date by which the parent of a participating student must confirm continuation in the program
  • Not charge families an application fee
  • Give priority to renewing students
  • Prepare and submit quarterly reports to Florida’s Department of Education
  • Provide payments to parents or qualified private schools at least quarterly

Governing Statutes

Legal History

No legal challenges have been filed against this program.

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