100,000 FL students have started applications for tax credit scholarships

Demand for Florida tax credit scholarships hit a milestone late Friday: For the first time in the program’s history, the number of students who have started an application for fall scholarships topped 100,000.

100 000

The number hit 100,000 about 10 p.m. As of 7 a.m. Saturday, it stood at 100,037.

In 2013, the number of students reached 94,105 before the application process was halted early, on June 28.  In 2012, it reached 87,540 before the application period ended Aug. 3.

The tax credit scholarships program is currently limited to low-income families. Changes passed by the state Legislature this year – and awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s signature – would allow partial scholarships to families with modestly higher incomes, but only after all qualifying low-income families are served. The program is administered by Step Up For Students, which co-hosts this blog.

The number of scholarships has risen rapidly, from 28,927 in the 2009-10 school year to 59,765 this year. The program’s current funding cap of $358 million should allow 67,000 students to be served in the fall.

Not every started application results in a scholarship awarded or used. Some parents won’t finish the applications. Some won’t meet eligibility requirements. Some will be awarded scholarships but never use them. (In the latter case, the money is then channeled into other scholarships.)

Demand for tax credit scholarships became something of a side issue during the recent legislative session, with some questioning the level of demand given the lack of a formal waiting list. Step Up is likely to end the application process in late June again this year.