More than 317,000 students, and counting, awarded Florida education choice scholarships

This spring, hundreds of thousands of Florida students have been awarded scholarships that will allow them to direct public education funding to providers of their choice next school year.

Step Up For Students, the organization that administers most of the scholarships and publishes this blog, opened applications at the beginning of April.

As of Friday, May 17, Step Up has awarded scholarships to more than 317,000 students, a sign of continued demand for educational options.

New applications are coming in every day, so the numbers continue to rise. Data in this post will be updated weekly.

This is the second scholarship application season since state lawmakers approved HB 1, which made all students in the state eligible for scholarships and expanded allowed uses of funding. The legislation produced the largest single-year expansion of educational options in U.S. history. Approximately 380,000 Florida students are receiving education choice scholarships for the 2023-24 school year.

This school year, there were 20,000 scholarships available for Personalized Education Programs, which allow parents to design a fully customized education without paying full-time school tuition. In the coming school year, that program will be able to grow by an additional 40,000 students.

In the second year of universal scholarships, Step Up has doubled its number of call center agents and made substantial upgrades in its technology infrastructure. This has created a more efficient experience for families. Compared to a similar period last year, Step Up’s call center wait times have fallen by nearly 97 percent, to less than a minute and a half. Step Up is currently handling over 4,000 calls and online chats per day.

Ruth Rose, Step Up’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, said teams throughout the organization worked to analyze families’ experience last year and make improvements.

“Proper preparation prevents poor performance,” she said. “The work done across the collective Step Up team over the prior 12 months is a demonstration of how preparation has equipped us to handle the volume of scholarship applications and customer service requests in a more delightful manner.”

Scholarships awarded by program

Tax Credit Scholarships

Renewal: 78,546

New: 25,803

Total: 104,349

Educational Options

Renewal: 85,423

New: 21,601

Total: 107,024

Personalized Education Program

Renewal: 13,275

New: 16,805

Total: 30,080

Unique Abilities

Renewal: 61,429

New: 15,026

Total: 76,455

Total – All programs 

Renewal: 238,673

New: 79,235

Total Students Awarded: 317,908


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BY Travis Pillow

Travis Pillow is Director of Thought Leadership at Step Up For Students and editor of NextSteps. He lives in Sanford, Fla. with his wife and two children. A former Tallahassee statehouse reporter, he most recently worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization at Arizona State University, where he studied community-led learning innovation and school systems' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. He can be reached at tpillow (at) sufs.org.

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