What if I Don’t Qualify for the Step Up Scholarship in Florida?

If you believe that a private school education is out of reach for your family, you may be surprised to learn that thousands of Florida families each year are awarded scholarships amounting to millions of dollars. One of the main scholarships that provides this funding is in the form of the Step Up For Students Scholarship. This scholarship provides an average of $7000 per year to students in K-12 for a variety of needs. But what if you don’t qualify for the Step Up scholarship? Are you simply out of luck for help paying for an affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL?

Our team at Lakeside Christian School, one of the premier private elementary schools in Clearwater, FL, has shared the requirements for the Step Up scholarship, as well as a few options for your family if you are considering applying for private school but are denied the Step Up for Students scholarship.


Step Up Scholarship Requirements

The Step Up for Students scholarship is a collection of scholarships from the state of Florida with differing requirements. Formerly known simply as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, this program began in 1988 to help empower low-income students and their families to have more of a choice in their education. The overall goal of the Step Up for Students scholarship is to allow parents the opportunity to take their children to participating private schools if they felt they were not being served well in their local public and/or charter schools. The Step Up for Students scholarship program targets students who tend to have the most limited options for improving the quality of their education.

A few of the requirements for this collection of scholarships include: 

The Income-Based Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship: A child may be eligible for an FTC scholarship for any of the following reasons:

  • A member of the household receives food stamps or federal assistance  
  • The household income qualifies the student for a free or reduced-price lunch
  • The household income is at or below the amounts indicated in the Step Up For Students eligibility chart
  • The child is homeless, in foster care, or in out-of-home care

Gardiner Scholarship: This scholarship is for children with special needs and unique abilities. Students between the ages of 3 and 22 who have yet to complete the 12th grade may qualify for the Gardiner scholarship. Your child may qualify for the Gardiner scholarship if they have:  

  • A qualifying disability or impairment  
  • A rare disease  
  • Developmental delays

Your child may also qualify if they are hospital or homebound. Please click here for the full list of qualifying disabilities, impairments, and requirements.

Reading Scholarship: This scholarship helps students that are struggling with reading who: 

  • Are in the third through fifth grades 
  • Score a 2 or less on the English Language Arts section of the Florida Standards Assessment for the previous year

All students, no matter their background or abilities, are entitled to a private education at Step Up for Students participating schools in Clearwater, FL, including Lakeside Christian School.


LCS FACTS Scholarship

If you don’t qualify for the Step Up for Students scholarship, you still may qualify for other scholarship opportunities. Lakeside Christian School provides over $250,000 in scholarships to qualified families each year, and many of these scholarships are not solely directed to Step Up for Students. 

Lakeside Christian School is committed to granting scholarships to families in need, which is why we created the FACTS scholarship. This scholarship is generously provided by our donors and helps those who are not recipients of Step Up for Students in Clearwater, FL.

If you don’t qualify for the scholarships above, you may still be able to use the FACTS program. This in-house scholarship is designed to create more affordable tuition for low-income families and is available to new families who have decided that Lakeside Christian School is right for them. Financial aid is available to all qualifying families through a process called FACTS. FACTS is an online financial aid assessment program.

For over 30 years, our school ministry has been blessed with the income required to meet budgets. Our desire is not to have to turn away any student due to finances, which is why we started offering the FACTS scholarship and LCS scholarship. In the past few years, we have substantially increased our tuition subsidy budgets to provide aid through reduced tuition so that families can enroll their students at Lakeside Christian School at a cost they can afford. 

Our team is proud to offer a variety of scholarship options, tuition assistance, and payment plans to help make quality education affordable for every family. Speak to a member of our team to learn how the FACTS scholarship option can help you. 

With over 40 years of experience and a diverse student body of children from various socioeconomic backgrounds, 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. 


If you would like to learn more about Lakeside Christian School, an affordable private elementary school in Clearwater, FL, please give us a call at (727) 239-7808 or schedule a tour of our campus.