Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program
- Tax-Credit Scholarship
- 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 private schools scholarships for low-income students and children in foster care. Learn more about it on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.
We do not administer this program.
Participating Students (Fall 2020)
of Families with Children Income-eligible Statewide
Scholarship Organizations (2020–21)
Participating Schools (2020–21)
Average Scholarship Value (projected 2020–21)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program Participation
Scholarships can be worth up to 96 percent of the state’s unweighted Fulltime Equivalency (FTE) funding, though they may not exceed private school tuition and fees. This maximum scholarship amount is $9,197 in 2020–21, but most students receive awards averaging between $6,775 to $7,250, depending on grade level. Transportation grants for students attending out-of-district public schools are worth up to $750.
Students in households earning up to 375 percent of the federal poverty level ($99,375 for a family of four in 2020–21) are eligible for scholarships. Students who qualify under 200 percent of poverty ($52,400 for a family of four) are eligible for full scholarships worth up to $9,197. Partial scholarships are available with scholarship values reduced by 12 percent to 50 percent if the student comes from a household with an income between 200 percent and 260 percent of the federal poverty level. First priority is given to renewal students and to new students eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program ($48,470 for a family of four in 2020–21). Siblings of current scholarship recipients who live in the same household are also eligible. Additionally, students placed in foster care or out-of-home care, as well as dependents of active-duty military, are able to apply for a scholarship at any time.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program—the largest choice program in the nation—helps more than a hundred thousand low-income students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do more to expand educational opportunity.
Eligibility for the scholarships is limited to 375 percent of the federal poverty line, with preference given to lower-income families. About 62 percent of Florida families have at least one student eligible to receive a scholarship. Statewide, 4.9 percent of students participate in one of Florida’s private educational choice options (including the Family Empowerment Scholarships Program, the Hope Scholarships Program, John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, and the Gardiner Scholarship Program). This is the second highest EdChoice share in the nation.
The average scholarship size is about $6,300, which is about 58 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 have 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.
Rules and Regulations
- Income Limit: 375 percent x Poverty
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
- Geographic Limit: Statewide
- Enrollment Cap: None
- Scholarship Cap: $9,197
- Testing Mandates: National or State
- Credit Value: 100 percent
- Total 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
On January 18, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court declined to accept appeal of McCall v. Scott, a case brought by teachers’ unions challenging the state’s tax-credit scholarship program. By refusing to allow rehearing on 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)
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.
Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program State Groups
That Support School Choice
ExcelinEd supports state leaders in transforming education to unlock opportunity and lifelong success for each and every child through their policy work.
Step Up For Students is a state-approved nonprofit scholarship funding organization that helps administer five scholarships for Florida schoolchildren: the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) and the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) for lower-income families, the Gardiner Scholarship for children with certain special needs, the Hope Scholarship for public school students who are bullied or victims of violence and the Reading Scholarship Accounts for public school students in third through fifth grade who struggle with reading.