Jul 12, 2023 - Education

How to claim money for kids' education under new Florida law

Illustration of two backpacks; one empty and one stuffed with cash.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1 in May, unleashing funds that families can use toward private school tuition, homeschooling materials and other education expenses.

What's happening: School districts receive a certain amount of funding per student from federal, state and local governments.

  • The new law essentially allows any K–12 student to take the state portion allotted for them — roughly $8,000 annually — and redirect it toward private school tuition.
  • It removes income caps, so even wealthy families are eligible.

Why it matters: The law went into effect July 1, and funds can be used for the upcoming school year.

  • The move makes Florida the largest jurisdiction in the country to offer universal school choice, according to education news site The 74, which describes the state as a "laboratory" conducting a giant experiment in education.
  • Conservatives lauded the change, while critics characterize it as a giveaway to wealthy families and fear that siphoning funds away will devastate public schools.
  • The Education Law Center predicts the new law will cost Florida $4 billion.

How it works: An organization called Step Up for Students handles the applications and payments.

  • For kids K–12 without disabilities, parents apply here for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC)/Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES-EO).

What they're saying: "Since May, we have received nearly 177,000 FTC/FES-EO applications representing nearly 245,000 students," Step Up for Students spokesperson Scott Kent tells Axios.

Of note: Families must apply to private schools separately. State funds go directly to the school after a student is enrolled.

  • If school costs exceed the roughly $8,000, parents are responsible for paying the difference.
  • If funds are left over after tuition, they may be used on other education expenses.
  • There is no deadline to apply, but private schools are filling up.

Zoom in: Separate funds are available for:


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