Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program
- Tax-Credit Education Savings Account
- Enacted 2001
- Launched 2001
Florida offers a tax credit on corporate income taxes and insurance premium taxes for donations to scholarship-funding organizations (SFOs), nonprofits that provide scholarships. All Florida students in grades K–12 are eligible, with priority to low-income students and children in foster care. Families can use scholarships to pay for tuition at the school of their choice, as well as other educational expenses such as instructional materials; curriculum; tuition and fees for homeschooling; fees for nationally norm-referenced tests, AP exams, and industry certifications; unbundled courses and services at a public school; fees for a choice navigator; tutoring; virtual education programs; educational therapies; and extracurricular programs. Learn more about it on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.
We do not administer this program.
Participating Students (2021–22)
of Families with Children Income-eligible Statewide
Scholarship Organizations (2021–22)
Participating Schools (2021–22)
Average Scholarship Value (2021–22)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program Participation
Scholarships can be worth up to the state’s unweighted Fulltime Equivalency (FTE) funding (less the Exceptional Services Education expenses), though they may not exceed private school tuition and fees. This maximum scholarship amount was $7,408 in 2021–22, but most students received awards averaging around $6,644. Transportation grants for students attending out-of-district public schools are worth up to $750.
(Last updated April 11, 2023)
As of 2023, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program is universally available to all resident students who are eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12 in a Florida public school. Award priority goes first to students from families with household income of 185 percent of the federal poverty level or lower, students in the foster care system, and students placed in out-of-home care. Second tier priority goes to students with household income greater than 185 percent FPL and up to 400 percent FPL.
Homeschoolers now have access to education savings accounts through FTC under the Personalized Education Plan (PEP). Families who wish to participate in PEP must register with a Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) approved scholarship-funding organization (SFO), must not be enrolled full-time in a public school, charter school, school for the deaf and blind, college preparatory academy, a developmental research school, or juvenile justice school, and their child must be at least age 5 by Sept 1, of the school year in which they wish to enroll.
Students remain eligible until they graduate high school or turn 21. Parents fill out a universal application, which applies to both Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program and Family Empowerment Scholarship program, but students are tracked to FTC until 75 percent of all estimated the net eligible contributions are used, at which point students may be awarded Family Empowerment Scholarships. FTC is not stackable with other choice programs.
(Last updated April 5, 2023)
EdChoice Expert Feedback
In 2023, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program dramatically expanded student eligibility and allowable expenses, effectively reclassifying the program as a tax-credit education savings account. This program helps tens of thousands of students access schools that are the right fit for them. Florida policymakers also expanded program access by making it available to all families.
Eligibility for the scholarships is universal for K–12 students, with preference given to lower-income families;100 percent of Florida families are eligible for an ESA through either the Family Empowerment Scholarship or Florida Tax Credit Scholarship programs. Statewide, less than 10 percent of students participate in one of Florida’s private educational choice options (including the Family Empowerment Scholarship (Educational Opportunity ESA) Program, the Hope Scholarships Program, and the Family Empowerment Scholarship (Unique Abilities ESA) Program). The average scholarship size is about $6,644, which is about 64 percent of the average expenditure per student at Florida’s district schools. Tax credits are worth 100 percent of the value of the contributions to scholarship organizations. There is $873.6 million in tax credits available annually, which is equivalent to 2.9 percent of Florida’s total K–12 revenue. The tax credit cap automatically increases by 25 percent each year if at least 90 percent of the cap was reached in the previous year.
In order to expand access to educational choice, Florida policymakers created the publicly funded Family Empowerment Scholarships Program to serve students who were on the scholarship waitlist.
Florida’s scholarship program generally avoids unnecessary and counterproductive regulations. The addition of a “choice navigator” to the program offers families an optional guide to help with choice options and academics. Several additional regulations were added with the expansion, such as a student learning plan (PEP students only), which parents must submit when their child enters the program and maintain annually. Parents of children who will be full time enrolled in a private school are also required to meet with a school principal prior to joining the program. With the 2023 expansion, Florida has repositioned themselves as the national leader for providing robust choice to families. The challenge going forward will be implementation and encouraging participation.
(Last updated April 17, 2023)
Rules and Regulations
- Income Limit: None; Priority to 185% FPL and foster care
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
- Geographic Limit: Statewide
- Enrollment Cap: None
- Scholarship Cap: $7,408
- Testing Mandates: Nationally norm-referenced tests or State test
- Credit Value: 100 percent
- Total Tax Credit Cap: Yes
- Budget Cap: $873.6 million (escalator)
- Be approved by the state
- Submit to the state annual sworn compliance reports regarding all local and state health and safety codes
- Comply with federal nondiscrimination requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 2000(d)
- Teachers and other school personnel working with scholarship students must undergo federal background checks
- Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree, three years of teaching experience, or special expertise
- Schools in operation fewer than three years must obtain a surety bond or letter of credit to cover the value of the scholarship payments for one quarter
- Meet state and local health, safety and welfare laws; codes and rules
- Any school receiving more than $250,000 in scholarship money must provide independent financial reporting to the state
- Scholarship students must take a nationally recognized norm-referenced test or the state public school assessment. All schools with at least 30 students in grades 3–10 in two or more consecutive years will have standardized test score gains analyzed by state researchers.
- Beginning in 2019–20, all new scholarship schools must receive a satisfactory inspection from the Florida Department of Education
(Last updated April 11, 2023)
On January 18, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court in McCall v. Scott declined to accept appeal of McCall v. Scott, a case brought by teachers’ unions challenging the state’s tax-credit scholarship program. The Florida Education Association (FEA) and other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in August of 2014, challenging the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship as a voucher program (in 2006 vouchers ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court). In May 2015, the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County dismissed the FEA lawsuit, finding that plaintiffs had no legal standing to sue. Plaintiffs appealed. Prior to the appeal, the Florida Association of School Administrators and Florida School Boards Association withdrew from the case. In August 2016, the First District Court of Appeals affirmed the Circuit Court ruling, holding that plaintiffs suffered no special injury from the tax-credit scholarship program and the state legislature did not exceed its authority under the constitution. McCall v. Scott, 199 So.3d 359 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2016). In September of 2016, plaintiffs filed notice to invoke discretionary jurisdiction of the Florida Supreme Court, asking the court to accept their appeal. By refusing to allow rehearing of the case, the Florida Supreme Court effectively ended this litigation. McCall v. Scott, cert. denied 2017 WL 192043, Case No. SC16-1668 (Fla. Jan. 18, 2017)
(Last updated January 5, 2023)