What Are the Qualifications and Eligibility Requirements for the Family Empowerment Scholarship?
Florida’s Family Empowerment Scholarship was launched in 2019 to help relieve pressure on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program waitlist while simultaneously expanding school choice options for low- and middle-income families looking to put their children on the path to academic success. It may be the fifth school choice program enacted in Florida (and the second operating voucher program), but it will undoubtedly be the first choice for families that qualify. In this article, we’ll tell you all about the Family Empowerment Scholarship, including eligibility, funding, regulations, and more. The Family Empowerment Scholarship may be just what your family needs to enroll in a Clearwater, FL, Christian school.
Before we break into the particulars of the Family Empowerment Scholarship, let’s cover a few “fast facts” to help you understand the scope of this program. As we mentioned above, it is Florida’s second operating voucher program. It’s estimated that 54 percent of families are income-eligible across the Sunshine State. The maximum value for one of these vouchers is $7,122, which equals 95 percent of the value of public school per-student spending or the cost of private school tuition and fees (whichever is less). Payments are transferred from the state’s general revenue fund to parents every quarter.
Initial eligibility is predicated on whether or not a student is already certified to receive food assistance, Florida Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, or qualifies for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). Families with a combined income not exceeding 300 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $77,250 for a family of four, also qualify. Children in foster care are also eligible for this scholarship.
In addition to the above requirements, students must be enrolled in a Florida public school the year before they can become eligible, unless their parents are members of the Armed Forces who have recently relocated to Florida due to orders from the military. Keep in mind that charter schools and state-funded virtual schools do not meet this requirement.
Although 54 percent of families qualify, priority is afforded to students coming from families with a household income not exceeding 185 percent of FPL (currently calculated at $47,638). Once a student becomes a recipient of a Family Empowerment Scholarship, their eligibility is locked in until they graduate or hit the age of 21 years old. Even if the family’s income level has improved, they will retain eligibility. This eligibility also extends to siblings of the recipient. For now, the program will provide scholarships to 18,000 students, but this number is expected to increase by approximately 7,000 each year, allowing more and more students to experience the benefits of attending a Clearwater, FL, Christian school.