Florida now has school vouchers for all: 5 things for families to know. (2023)

Published Mar. 27|Updated Yesterday

With the stroke of a pen Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis made it possible for every school-age child in Florida to get a taxpayer-funded education voucher or savings account.

His signature on HB 1, which passed its final legislative stop Thursday, creates one of the nation’s largest school choice programs. Already, about 1.3 million children receive their education from someplace other than their assigned public school, DeSantis noted. That includes private schools, home education and charter schools, as well as the largest segment — school district programs like magnets.

“This expands school choice to every single student in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at the bill signing at Christopher Columbus High School, a private, all-boys Catholic school in Miami.

The measure takes effect on July 1. Here’s what it means for Florida families:

What will a voucher be good for?

First things first. Students cannot receive or use a voucher or a savings account while attending a public school.

Their share will be the amount their school district gets in per-student funding, projected to be about $8,700 on average.

This program is for families that choose some other form of education. They can use the money for tuition at a private school, including religious ones; tuition and fees at an eligible postsecondary institution; and fees for testing, including Advanced Placement and industry certification exams.

The money also can go toward instructional materials, curriculum, tutoring and counseling, and contracted services from a public school.

Beyond that, the program offers added special services for students with unique abilities, such as speech language pathology and occupational therapy.

The money will go directly to families, however the law requires them to pay for tuition first if attending a private school. If any money is left, they can use the funds on other approved expenses.

If they don’t need all the money immediately, families will be able to bank up to $24,000 of the funds and spend it until the time the scholarship expires. That happens when a student enrolls in public school, graduates high school or turns 21 years old, if the state revokes the scholarship for misuse or there is no activity on the account for two years.

The upshot, said Senate sponsor Corey Simon, a Tallahassee Republican, is a “transformational opportunity to make it clear that the money follows the child, and parents have a right to guide their child’s education as they see fit.”

What about homeschooling?

The proposal initially set aside thousands of vouchers for homeschool students. But homeschool advocates argued against being included because they didn’t want to be subject to added state regulations over their education choices.

In response, the Legislature created a new category called the “personalized education program.”

It’s essentially the same thing as homeschooling, but with the acceptance of the voucher and the related strings attached to the funding. Those include meeting state attendance requirements and submitting an annual customized student learning plan to the scholarship funding organization.

Florida now has school vouchers for all: 5 things for families to know. (1)

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Homeschool families that do not accept a voucher can continue as they always have.

According to Danny Aqua, executive director of Teach Florida, a nonpublic school and parent advocacy organization, about 20,000 homeschooled students will be eligible for an education savings account next year.

Florida now has school vouchers for all: 5 things for families to know. (2)

Will it cover all my costs?

This has been a concern raised by several parents who testified before the Legislature about the bill. They suggested that the voucher amount of about $8,700 per student does not offer them enough to pay for their choices — if the school they prefer will even accept them.

“The vouchers go a part of the way,” said Thomas Kruczek, president of Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, where DeSantis signed the bill. This year, tuition at the all-boys Catholic private school is $15,400. “But we also provide quite a bit of tuition scholarships to our students as well. Usually about a million and a half dollars every year in scholarships, so that will help support it.”

If families need more, the school also has the Caring Hearts Fund, a donation-based fund that offsets traditional financial aid for students. The school doesn’t offer any merit-based scholarships, only need-based, he said.

Many schools that accept vouchers are in a similar situation.

In Hillsborough County, for instance, tuition at Carrollwood Day School starts at $17,750 a year for kindergarten and reaches $27,000 for high school grades. In Pinellas County, the popular but less expensive Keswick Christian starts at $10,275 for kindergarten and rises to $13,800 for juniors and seniors.

Hillsborough School Board chairperson Nadia Combs said she worried that “low-income families will never be able to afford that private school.” The outcome, suggested Jacksonville Democrat Sen. Tracie Davis, could be a rebate for wealthy families that already were paying full tuition.

Erika Donalds, an avid school choice proponent and wife of Republican Rep. Byron Donalds of Naples, predicted there will be more options available as demand increases.

“You’ll see schools whose tuition is $15,000 or maybe more than that, but you’re also going to see schools operating at an affordable price for families,” she said. “And you know, $7,000 above the scholarship is much more affordable than the full $15,000 families are having to contend with right now, so it definitely opens up options for many more families.”

Can I pick whatever school I want?

Not necessarily. At the news conference, DeSantis said the voucher could be used at any school that qualifies and meets the basic standards set by the state.

But according to Aqua, of Teach Florida, that’s about 80% of schools.

To become a participant in the program, the school has to apply. It’s a process that typically takes between nine months and two years, Aqua said.

The requirements include demonstrating “fiscal soundness” by operating for at least three school years or filing a surety bond or letter of credit to the Department of Education. Schools must employ or contract teachers “who hold a baccalaureate or higher degree, or have at least three years of teaching experience in public or private schools,” according to the department.

Another concern arose from bill opponents that private schools may turn away applicants. They can have enrollment limits that public schools may not, and also can reject students they do not see as meeting their objectives.

The bill sponsors rejected proposed amendments that would prohibit schools from discriminating against students over factors such as sexual identity or hairstyle. Instead, they agreed to include a requirement that participating schools put information into a statewide online portal to help parents decide if they’re a good fit.

Simon, the Senate sponsor, has said the goal is not to make private schools act as public ones because that would negate the concept of offering a variety of choices.

How do I get mine?

To use the money for a full-time private school, parents must select that private school and apply for admission. As part of that process, they’re supposed to meet with school officials to review all applicable policies, expectations, programs and other aspects that might influence their choice.

They also need to apply to one of the scholarship funding organizations that will administer the program, Step Up for Students and AAA Scholarship Foundation.

Those groups will accept applications and determine student eligibility. They also are charged with monitoring compliance with the applicable expenses.

Lawmakers have said their goal is to have enough vouchers so wait lists no longer exist. At the same time, senators said during the final debate that the “educational opportunity” vouchers will be funded until the money runs out, with top priority going to families at or below 185% of the federal poverty level, with those between 185% and 400% next.

For a family of four, that translates to families that earn between $55,500 and $120,000 a year.

Vouchers for students with unique abilities and personalized education programs will be limited, with the caps eventually disappearing.

The chambers have yet to work out how the state will pay for the expansion.

• • •

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What is the new voucher law in Florida? ›

The new law will limit the number of vouchers issued for homeschooled children to 20,000 for the 2023-24 school year. That number may increase by 40,000 each subsequent year until it is "repealed" by July 2027.

Does Florida have a school voucher system? ›

Florida has steadily expanded its private school vouchers over the two decades since then-Gov. Jeb Bush introduced the first-in-the-nation “Opportunity Scholarship” program for low-income students in 1999.

Who benefits most from school vouchers? ›

At present, the school choice programs currently operating in 29 states plus Washington, D.C. primarily benefit children from low-income families and students with special needs.

How much is the school choice voucher in Florida? ›

In Reelection Bid, DeSantis Keeps Eye on Schools — and 2024

At the household level, families will apply for a voucher (projected to be worth about $8,700, based on average per-student allotment from districts) through one of Florida's two scholarship funding organizations.

How does the Florida school voucher program work? ›

This program is for families that choose some other form of education. They can use the money for tuition at a private school, including religious ones; tuition and fees at an eligible postsecondary institution; and fees for testing, including Advanced Placement and industry certification exams.

How much is a Section 8 voucher for a family of 4 in Florida? ›

Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher Eligibility
Miami-Dade County, FL HMFA MFI: $59,100Extremely Low Income Limit 30% of MedianLow Income Limit 80% of Median
3 Person$24,700$65,800
4 Person$27,400$73,100
5 Person$30,680$78,950
6 Person$35,160$84,800
4 more rows

What is the Florida voucher bill 2023? ›

8, 2023 in Tallahassee, Fla. The Florida House on Friday passed a bill that would make nearly every K-12 student in the state eligible for a state-funded school voucher, despite not having a clear estimate for how much it would cost.

What state has the largest school voucher program? ›

Louisiana is the most generous with a standard deductible of up to $5,000 per student for homeschooling families. Are Scholarships Available to Help Students Attend Private K-12 Schools?

Does the state of Florida pay for private schools? ›

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed legislation to allow all K-12 students in the state to get taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools, continuing a focus on education as he prepares to launch an expected Republican presidential campaign.

What are school vouchers and why are they so controversial? ›

Rooted in Segregation and Racism

School districts used vouchers to enable white students to attend private schools, which could (and still can) limit admission based on race. As a result, the schools that served those white students were closed, and schools that served black students remained chronically underfunded.

What is one of the possible disadvantages of school voucher systems? ›

School vouchers fail to accommodate and support disabled and special-needs students. School vouchers do not improve students' academic performance.

Which of the following is the best description of school vouchers? ›

a form of school choice reform that exists as checks or written documents that parents can use to purchase educational services. Best description of school vouchers? It is an accountability reform sponsored by the federal government.

What is the $8,000 school voucher in Florida? ›

DeSantis signed House Bill 1 at a Miami high school and called it the biggest expansion of the program in the state's history. The new law will, among other changes, make every Florida student eligible for taxpayer-financed vouchers to attend private schools worth about $8,000 dollars.

Who qualifies for Florida Empowerment scholarship? ›

Student Eligibility

Priority is given to students whose household income does not exceed 185 percent of FPL ($51,338 for a family of four in 2022–23) and children in foster care or out-of-home care. Secondary priority is given to students whose household income is above 185 percent of FPL and up to 400 percent of FPL.

What is the Florida choices program? ›

Choices strives to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in youth by promoting healthy lifestyle choices. The program encourages positive youth development through STD and pregnancy prevention, goal setting, healthy relationships and abstinence from sex, drugs, and alcohol.

Can you go to a school you are not zoned for in Florida? ›

Florida: Florida has unrestricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you can send your child to any public school in Florida, regardless of where you live or where the school is located. Each school must post information about capacity and how to apply on its website.

What is the Florida legislature school voucher? ›

It removes income restrictions and enrollment limits, allowing essentially any Florida household with a student in elementary, middle or high school to receive a school voucher containing the amount that their local public school would have received if they had attended.

What is the bill to fund students in Florida? ›

MIAMI — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 1, which expands available school choice options for all students in Florida by eliminating financial eligibility restrictions and the current enrollment cap.

Can you buy a house with a Section 8 voucher in Florida? ›

Qualified THA applicants and program participants are now able to use their Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers toward mortgages for their own homes. By working with the First Time Homeowners Center and local mortgage lenders, we have made it possible for families to move from rental housing to affordable homes.

What is the maximum income to qualify for Section 8 in Florida? ›

In Florida, households must earn no more than 50% of the median income for their area to be eligible for Section 8 housing.
Income Limits for Section 8 Housing in Florida.
Household SizeIncome Limit
1 more row
Mar 28, 2023

How do I get Section 8 immediately in Florida? ›

Public Housing and Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8)

To apply for either type of help, visit your local Public Housing Agency (PHA). Some PHAs have long waiting lists, so you may want to apply at more than one PHA. Your PHA can also give you a list of locations at which your voucher can be used.

How much back to school money to Florida residents get? ›

Florida is sending $450 back-to-school checks to select families. Here's who is eligible. TALLAHASSEE — With nearly 59,000 families in Florida set to receive a one-time $450 check from the state of Florida, the recipients run the range of the most needy in the Sunshine state.

What is a housing choice voucher in Florida? ›

The Housing Choice Voucher (formerly known as Section 8 vouchers) program is the major federal program that assists very low-income families, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.

Does Florida have school choice? ›

Florida families can choose from six main types of schools: traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

What is the richest public school district in the US? ›

Scarsdale Union Free School District, N.Y.

Households in the Scarsdale Union Free School District are the wealthiest in the nation, with a median annual income of $238,478, or 4.5 times greater than the comparable national median income of $53,046.

Which state has the least funding for education? ›

Utah receives the lowest amount per pupil from the federal government. Colorado receives the second-lowest amount per pupil in federal funding. Vermont's state government spends the most per pupil of any state government to finance education. Hawaii supplies the second-most state funding.

How much do teachers get paid for private schools in Florida? ›

How much does a Private School Teacher make in Florida? As of Apr 25, 2023, the average annual pay for a Private School Teacher in Florida is $26,185 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $12.59 an hour. This is the equivalent of $503/week or $2,182/month.

Are Florida state schools free for residents? ›

Eligibility for In-State Tuition

To be eligible for in-state tuition, you or your parents must have been a Florida resident, as defined by state law for tuition purposes, for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the first day of the term.

What is House Bill 1 Florida? ›

CS/CS/CS/CS/HB 1: Education

Education; Revises provisions relating to Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, part-time enrollment in public schools, transportation of students, graduations requirements, Commissioner of Education duties, & educator certifications.

What are the pros and cons of school vouchers Chapter 32? ›

Giving vouchers to public school students enables them to pay to attend better-performing charter or private schools. However, school vouchers take the money and good students away from public schools, making it more difficult for those schools to improve.

How has the Supreme Court ruled on the issue of school vouchers? ›

Supreme Court Decision Paves Way for Public Funds to Flow to Religious Schools. The Court's 6-3 decision in 'Carson v. Makin' could expand voucher programs across the nation, undermining public schools and the students they serve.

Does Texas offer school vouchers? ›

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas House of Representatives on Thursday voted to prohibit state money from funding private school vouchers or education savings accounts. The move is a setback to one of Gov. Greg Abbott's top priorities to provide “school choice” with state-funded private school tuition subsidies.

What are the weaknesses of vouchers? ›

Advantages and Disadvantages of Vouchers

The main disadvantages to the system are the lack of consumer familiarity with paper vouchers, concerns around security that are largely unfounded, and their general unpopularity preventing widespread use.

Which of the following is a criticism of school vouchers? ›

School Voucher programs have been criticized because: They may result in taxpayer money going to religiously affiliated schools. This type of choice plan allows students to choose to attend any public school in their district or state.

What are some drawbacks of the Every Student Succeeds Act? ›

List of the Cons of the Every Student Succeeds Act
  • It maintains the status quo in many areas where previous attempts already underperform. ...
  • There is no effort made to address the root causes of inequality. ...
  • It removed the stipulation for adequate yearly progress. ...
  • There are more ways to mask inequalities in the ESSA.
Aug 26, 2021

What is another name for school vouchers? ›

A school voucher, also called an education voucher in a voucher system, is a certificate of government funding for students at schools chosen by themselves or their parents. Funding is usually for a particular year, term, or semester.

What do the advocates of school vouchers believe? ›

Supporters of vouchers argue that low-income families should have the same opportunities to choose a school—even a private school—as their wealthier peers.

How much is the Florida education voucher? ›

In Reelection Bid, DeSantis Keeps Eye on Schools — and 2024

At the household level, families will apply for a voucher (projected to be worth about $8,700, based on average per-student allotment from districts) through one of Florida's two scholarship funding organizations.

What is Florida A+ school money? ›

The Florida School Recognition Program is created to provide financial awards to public schools that: (a) Sustain high performance by receiving a school grade of “A,” making excellent progress; or (b) Demonstrate exemplary improvement due to innovation and effort by improving a letter grade.

How much school can kid miss in Florida? ›

The state of Florida considers a “habitual truant” to be any student of elementary school age through age 16 who has: Accumulated 15 or more unexcused absences in a three-month period; Without the knowledge of their parent or guardian; and.

What are the requirements for the 5 strong scholarship? ›

Scholarship Description
  • Reside in the Atlanta, GA metropolitan area (Fulton County and surrounding counties)
  • Be a current-year graduating high school senior.
  • Demonstrate the potential to be a leader in the classroom and on campus.
  • Have earned a GPA of at least 3.0 (Some HBCU Partners have higher GPA Requirements)

What is the HOPE Scholarship in Florida? ›

Florida Hope Scholarship Program. The Hope Scholarship Program (Program) provides a public-school student who was subjected to an incident of violence or bullying at school the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to attend an eligible private school rather than remain in an unsafe school environment.

What is the step up program in Florida? ›

The Step Up for Students scholarship is a collection of scholarships from the state of Florida with differing requirements. Formerly known simply as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, this program began in 1988 to help empower low-income students and their families to have more of a choice in their education.

What is the My home Program in Florida? ›

The program will provide $2 in grant funds for every $1 the homeowner provides. In order to receive the maximum grant amount, homeowners must provide $5,000 of their own funds toward the project.

What is Blue Choice Florida? ›

Thank you for selecting Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida's (BCBSF) BlueChoice. BlueChoice gives you access to two of BCBSF's provider networks - BCBSF's statewide. network of preferred providers and BCBSF's network of traditional providers.

How do you qualify for the PACE program in Florida? ›

To be eligible for services through the PACE program, an individual must be age 55 or older, live in an authorized program area, meet the medical eligibility requirements determined by CARES, and be able to live safely in the community. PACE clients can be dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, or Medicaid-only.

What is voucher rules? ›

Voucher Rules means the rules formulated by the Minister under section 11 of the Hearing Services Administration Act 1997 (Cth), as amended or replaced from time to time.

How long does it take to get a housing voucher in Florida? ›

The average wait time to receive a voucher is approximately 2 years.

How does Section 8 voucher work in Florida? ›

Florida Section 8 requires households to pay up to 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent. An adjusted income is the amount of money remaining after all other expenses have been paid for the month. These expenses typically include utilities and food.

Is it legal to refuse Section 8 in Florida? ›

While the law protects people who have Section 8 vouchers, it simply means that they can't be turned away solely because they have Section 8 vouchers. Landlords may still apply neutral and non-discriminatory screening criteria to all tenants, including tenants who propose to pay rent using Section 8 vouchers.

What are the 3 types of vouchers? ›

Types of Vouchers
  • Debit or Payment voucher.
  • Credit or Receipt voucher.
  • Supporting voucher.
  • Non-Cash or Transfer voucher (Journal voucher)
Apr 6, 2023

What are the 9 types of voucher? ›

Voucher types in Tally
  • Sales Voucher.
  • Purchase Voucher.
  • Payment Voucher.
  • Receipt Voucher.
  • Contra Voucher.
  • Journal Voucher.
  • Credit Note Voucher.
  • Debit Note Voucher.
Aug 5, 2022

What are the two types of voucher? ›

Types of vouchers Explained
  • (1) Receipt voucher- It is also called a credit voucher. ...
  • (2) Payment voucher- It is also called a debit voucher. ...
  • (3) Journal voucher- A journal voucher is also called a non-cash voucher or transfer voucher.
Feb 9, 2022

What qualifies as low income in Florida? ›

Low income describes a family at or below 80% of area median income. Moderate income describes a family at or be- low 120% of area median income (at or below 100% of median income for federal programs).

What will disqualify you from Section 8 in Florida? ›

You MIGHT be rejected if the background check reveals… Drug-related crimes; • Violent crimes; or • Other crimes that could threaten the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the building by other residents or PHA employees. The PHA will look at arrests and convictions that occurred within the past 5 years.

What is the most Section 8 will pay? ›

The maximum housing assistance is generally the lesser of the payment standard minus 30% of the family's monthly adjusted income or the gross rent for the unit minus 30% of monthly adjusted income.

How much is a 3 bedroom voucher for Section 8 in Orlando Florida? ›

Payment Standards for Vouchers
Bedroom SizePayment Standards
3 more rows

How do housing vouchers work in Florida? ›

Families who participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program use vouchers issued by local Housing Authorities (HA) to rent privately-owned apartments or houses from landlords approved by the HA. Families sign leases with landlords, just as they would in private housing, and the HA pays a portion of the family's rent.

Do landlords have to accept Section 8 vouchers in Florida? ›

Currently, landlords and property managers across Central Florida can legally discriminate against or refuse to accept tenants who use a housing voucher to help cover the cost of rent.

What is the familial status in Florida? ›

It is illegal for housing providers to discriminate against you based on your familial status, including denying you housing or a mortgage. Familial status means having children under age 18 in the household.

How do I not get evicted in Florida? ›

How Tenants Can Fight (or Delay) an Eviction in Florida
  1. Talk to Your Landlord. The best way to delay an eviction is to talk to your landlord. ...
  2. Fight (Raise a Defense) ...
  3. Ask for a Continuance. ...
  4. Talk to the Judge. ...
  5. File For Bankruptcy to Delay Your Eviction. ...
  6. Should I Ignore an Eviction Notice?
Dec 5, 2022


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