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Step-Up Scholarship

Step Up For Students
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Step Up For Students empowers parents to pursue and engage in the most appropriate learning options for their children, with an emphasis on families who lack the information and financial resources to access these options. By pursuing this mission, we help public education fulfill the promise of equal opportunity.

Step Up For Students is a state-approved nonprofit scholarship funding organization that helps administer five scholarships for Florida schoolchildren:


  1. the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC)

  2. the Family Empowerment Scholarship (FES) for lower-income families

  3. the Gardiner Scholarship for children with certain special needs

  4. the Hope Scholarship for public school students who are bullied or victims of violence  

  5. the Reading Scholarship Accounts for public school students in third through fifth grade who struggle with reading.

Public education is rooted in the promise of equal educational opportunity, and nowhere is that covenant more relevant than in the lives of struggling or disadvantaged children.

These scholarships strengthen public education by offering options to struggling schoolchildren. We consider Step Up For Students a partner of public schools in giving all students the tools toward success. We do this by empowering parents through the scholarship programs so that they might have an equal opportunity to discover educational options that work best for their children.

Step Up For Students is more than a name – it’s a mission statement!

Since 2001 Step Up For Students, a state-approved scholarship funding organization, has empowered parents and students to make personalized education affordable.

The impact is undeniable. Combined, more than 116,000 students (2017-18 school year) benefited from  the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income families, and the Gardiner Scholarship for children with certain unique abilities. And to empower more students, Step Up has two new scholarships: The Hope Scholarship for public schoolchildren who are bullied and the Reading Scholarship Accounts for struggling readers in public school in third through fifth grade.

Note* (Not in video) In May 2019, the legislature passed the Family Empowerment Scholarship for lower-income families.

Each child has his or her individual needs and each educational journey is as unique as the student it serves. Instead of all children learning in one specific way, we give parents and guardians the choice to find the learning environment that best matches the student.

The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, for children in lower-income families, can be used to help pay tuition and fees up to $7,111 for K-12th-graders at one of 1,800 participating schools in Florida OR up to $750 to help with the transportation costs of attending an out-of-district public school.

The Gardiner Scholarship allows children with certain special needs or unique abilities to use funds on approved services and educational tools such as tuition, therapies, specialists, curriculum, technology, educational games and even a college savings account. Eligible students receive on average $10,000 in scholarship funds each year.

The Hope Scholarship for bullying victims in the public school system gives victims’ parents the opportunity to receive a scholarship for their child to enroll in a participating private school, transfer their child to another K-12 public school within the school district, or receive a scholarship to transport the student to a public school in another district.*

*A qualifying incident must have taken place at a public K-12 school, any school-related or school-sponsored program or activity, including riding on the school bus or waiting at the school bus stop.

Reading Scholarship Accounts are available for public school children in third through fifth grade who struggled with the English Language Arts section of their Florida Standard Assessment in the previous testing year. The education savings accounts are worth $500 each and help pay for tuition and fees related to tutoring or summer and after-school literacy programs, instructional materials and curriculum related to reading or literacy.

For more information about Step Up For Students scholarship programs, please visit

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