Parents see delays in school choice scholarships after program removes income cap

ORLANDO, Fla. — Some smaller private schools in Central Florida said they are at risk of shutting down or possibly kicking some students out.


These schools rely on state funding to cover lower-income students on scholarships, but the rules changed this year.

The state removed the income cap, which meant thousands more families entered the scholarship pool.

But now, lower-income families who qualify for state funding through the “Step Up for Students” program are experiencing delays.

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A huge reason this is happening is that a significant number of larger schools with richer parents who could afford the private schools are now also receiving the scholarships.

This is causing a delay for schools and families who need the money to get it.

Sixty-seven students at Scholars Academy rely on the state-funded scholarships promised to them.

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Director Krista Jax said her school has only received state payments for two students. Dozens of smaller private schools across Central Florida revealed that they’re experiencing the same delay.

A school of 400 shared it received zero payments.

Previously, only students’ families making less than $100,000 a year for a family of four qualified. This summer, the state’s voucher program removed the income cap.

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“Your millionaires, or whoever it is, they can pay for the private education,” Jax said.

Step Up for Students, which provides the scholarship, revealed that before the change, there were 170,000 students enrolled.

Now, an additional 123,000 students and counting are enrolled. Seventy percent of them were already in private schools.

Most of the newly enrolled families who make more than $120,000 a year have already received their scholarships, while Jax’s students looking for an opportunity for a better education are still waiting.

Channel 9 has contacted Step Up for Students, which referred us to the Florida Department of Education. At this time, they could only give a generic statement and did not answer our questions, including why some schools are waiting versus others and when they can expect the money.

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