Florida is one of 11 states with a tax credit scholarship. Here’s how it works.
Students are eligible for the program if:
- Their family household income is no more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s about $43,500 for a family of four.
- Were enrolled in a public school the previous year. The Legislature will consider a bill ending this requirement.
- Are attending kindergarten or first grade.
Businesses can take a tax credit for donations to eligible “nonprofit scholarship funding organizations,” according to state law. Businesses can claim credits for corporate income taxes, insurance premium taxes, alcoholic beverage excise taxes, direct pay sales taxes and oil and gas severance taxes.
Florida’s tax credit is more generous than many states, offering a dollar-for-dollar credit for donations. Other state credits range between 50 percent and 100 percent of the donation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
A 2008 state analysis found Florida saved about $1.50 in state education costs for every dollar claimed in tax credits.
Tampa-based Step Up For Students awarded $151.9 million in private school scholarships in 2012, according to its financial reports. Awards are capped at $4,335. Students can also receive up to $500 for transportation to attend public school in another district.
About 1,000 private schools participate in the program, according to Step Up For Students. Tax credit scholarship students account for about one-quarter of students in those schools.
More than 50,800 students are receiving scholarships as of January 1, according to the most recent quarterly report.