Florida Establishes ESA Program

July 3, 2014

Florida is the second state in the country to create an Education Savings Account program, writes Stephanie Lynn at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. The bill also expands funding for the state's Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the largest private school choice program in the United States.

Through the Personal Learning Scholarship Account program, Florida students with special needs can receive an Education Savings Account (ESA) with funds equivalent to 90 percent of the state and local funds that would have gone to cover the student's public school instruction. Parents will be able to use that state-funded account to pay for services including tuition, tutoring and therapy, among other services. The program is similar to Arizona's ESA program.

In order to qualify, students must:

  • Be diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, Intellectual disability, Prader-Willi Syndrome, Spina-bifida, Williams syndrome or be kindergartners deemed at high risk.
  • Be Florida residents.
  • Be eligible to enroll in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Additionally, the bill establishing ESAs also made changes to Florida's Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which grants tax credits to individuals who make contributions to scholarship organizations. Those scholarships are available to Florida students of low-income families, as well as students in foster care. The bill increased the maximum amount of scholarship funding for the program to $6,000, up from $4,800.

Source: Stephanie Linn, "Florida Governor Signs Nation's Second ESAs, Expands Tax-Credit Scholarships," Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, June 20, 2014

 

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