Does the Step Up Scholarship Apply to Virtual Learning?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more families than ever are choosing to enroll their children in virtual learning opportunities. In fact, Florida Virtual School, a public virtual school, reported that over 13,000 students were enrolled in the 2021-2022 school year. That number doesn’t include the growing number of students who are also attending private schools virtually. 

Of the thousands of students who are attending virtual school, many qualify for financial aid options just as in-person students would. But does the Step Up for Students Scholarship apply to those who are participating in virtual learning? 

In this brief article, our team of advisors at Lakeside Christian School, one of the Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL, shares a basic guide on whether or not you can use Step Up for Students for virtual learning opportunities. 


Overview of the Step Up for Students Scholarship

Before learning whether you can use Step Up for Students scholarships for virtual learning, it’s important to cover a few basics about what Step Up for Students actually is. 

Originally created as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, Step Up for Students was made to help empower low-income students and their families to have more of a choice in their education. 

In short, the Step Up for Students scholarship allows parents the opportunity to take their children to participating private schools if they felt they were not being served with quality in their local schools. Furthermore, the Step Up for Students scholarship program targets students who tend to have the most limited options for improving the quality of their education.

Step Up for Students is one of two non-profit Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs) that issue scholarships and determine student eligibility for: 

  • The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC)
  • The Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES)
  • The Gardiner Scholarship
  • The Hope Scholarship
  • The Reading Scholarship 

Families who are active duty military can also qualify for this scholarship. This scholarship may not cover 100% of tuition costs, but on average families may be awarded $7,000 toward their educational expenses/tuition.


Does Step Up for Students Cover Virtual Learning?

The most important factor to consider in determining whether Step Up for Students will cover your child for virtual learning is to understand if your child is attending schools that qualify for Step Up for Students in Clearwater, FL. Your student will need to attend a school that participates in this scholarship particularly.

Next, the state of Florida states the following: 

“The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship still includes language to allow students to take no more than 2 state-funded virtual courses. The Family Empowerment Scholarship for income-based students does not include that language. Students who participate in the Family Empowerment Scholarship will be able to use their scholarship funds for the Florida Virtual School as a private-paying student. Schools may also want to consider building Florida Virtual School courses into their tuition and fee schedule.”

Simply put, students who use their scholarship for Florida Virtual School may find that they are limited in the number of courses they take. However, if your student is attending a private school that has options for virtual courses in their tuition, you may be able to use the Step Up for Students Scholarship. You’ll need to discuss your specific situation with the team of advisors at Lakeside Christian School to discuss your financial situation and whether you can use the scholarship toward virtual courses.


Why to Consider Private High Schools in Clearwater, FL for Virtual Learning

With the option of Florida Virtual School, you might be wondering why you should bother sending your teen to a Christian high school in Clearwater, FL for virtual courses. In a private Christian high school, your teen will be invited to take part in virtual faith-based learning. They’ll also be part of smaller class sizes with the same level of attention that they would have gotten in person as well. 

Furthermore, your child will be invited to participate in extracurricular activities exactly as they would have in person. Community is a main factor in your child’s education experience, even in a virtual setting. 

If you’re hoping to learn more about the scholarship opportunities available for your children, don’t hesitate to contact one of the scholarship specialists at Lakeside Christian School. Private high schools in Clearwater, FL do not have to be out of reach due to finances, and relief is available even if you choose a virtual setting for your child.  

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children from families of all socioeconomic backgrounds and income levels, Lakeside Christian School is built on the biblical principles of loving God and loving others. This care is demonstrated through the warm, respectful relationships among staff and between staff and students, and uses a tailored approach to your child’s education. If you’re interested in learning more about how we challenge all of our students to achieve their academic and personal goals, give us a call today. 

Each year, Lakeside Christian School, an affordable private school in Clearwater, FL, provides over $250,000 in scholarships to qualified families. For more information and to schedule a tour, please call Jim Jensen, Administrator at (727) 477-8542 for new inquiries only. For all other concerns, please call (727) 461-3311.


If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, one of the Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.