Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nuts and bolts of private school vouchers

This year Florida lawmakers approved a dramatic expansion of private school vouchers. Supporters of the corporation-funded scholarships that enable low-income students to attend private schools say vouchers provide families with more options. Critics, who say public schools are still not adequately funded, fear the expansion may lead to vouchers for all students. Here's a look at the issue:

What did the bill do?

It significantly increased the value of each voucher, increased how much corporations can donate and mapped out accountability measures, such as standardized test scores and financial accounting to the state if a school receives more than $250,000 in voucher revenue.

How much is each voucher worth?

Each is worth $4,106 for the 2010-11 school year. The value will rise over several years until it reaches 80 percent of the state's per-pupil funding, which is currently $6,843.51.

What do they pay for?

Tuition and books. Eligible students can also get up to $500 for transportation if their school of choice is outside their district.

Who's eligible?

Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their parents' income. For example, a household of two people whose gross income is less than $2,247 a month may be eligible. Students must also have attended public school for a year before application, except for kindergarteners and first-graders.

How many schools statewide and locally accept vouchers?

In Florida: 1,033 religious and nonreligious schools.

Hillsborough: 62

Pinellas: 59

Pasco: 16

Hernando: 8

How many students statewide and locally used vouchers this past school year?

In Florida: 28,927

Hillsborough: 1,398

Pinellas: 798

Pasco: 278

Hernando: 195

How much is the program expected to grow?

Step Up For Students, the Tampa organization that administers it, estimates that 4,000 to 5,000 more students will use vouchers in the 2010-11 school year. If the growth trends continue, 70,000 could be enrolled by 2015.

How much has the program awarded since inception?

About $427 million since 2002-03.

How much more can corporations donate?

The cap was increased from $118 million to $140 million, with a provision that allows it to increase in the future.

Do voucher students have to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test?

No, but they must take a nationally recognized standardized test and their results must be reported to the state.

Can you lose a voucher?

Yes, if income exceeds the eligibility guidelines or if a student does not take a standardized test. Students must apply to renew their scholarships every year.

How do I apply or find out more?

Call 1-877-735-7837 or visit

Sources: Step Up For Students, the Florida Department of Education, Times files

Nuts and bolts of private school vouchers 07/29/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 29, 2010 4:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated


    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humiliation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  2. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person



    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry crowd at Raymond James Stadium. Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  3. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  4. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears


    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”
  5. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings