Ron DeSantis

DeSantis Signs Bill to Expand Florida Voucher Program: How It Impacts Schools and Students

DeSantis signed the bill during a news conference at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami

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Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday that expands the state's school voucher program to every student, a move that could have a major impact on Florida's education system.

DeSantis signed the bill during a news conference at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami.


The bill removes income-eligibility requirements that were part of the previous programs and makes all students eligible for taxpayer-backed vouchers.

Students are eligible to receive vouchers if they are “a resident of this state” and “eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12” in a public school.

The bill includes a tiered “priority” system for students to receive vouchers. Students whose household incomes are less than 185% of the federal poverty level, or roughly $51,000 for a family of four, get first priority. Next are students whose family incomes are from 185% of the poverty level to 400% of the poverty level, which is about $111,000 for a family of four.

"There will be a preference for low and middle-income families but at the end of the day, we fundamentally believe that the money should follow the student, it should be directed based on what the parent thinks is the most appropriate education program for their child," DeSantis said Monday


The bill also allows home-schooled students to receive voucher funds, another change from previous programs. But the measure would require such students to be categorized as participating in a "personalized education program," which would come with certain requirements such as the students having to take nationally norm-referenced tests or statewide assessments.

It also sets up what are known as “education savings accounts,” allowing recipients to spend funds on a range of purchases beyond private-school tuition. Some of those purchases could include tutoring expenses, fees for various exams and contracted services provided by public schools.


The Republican-controlled Florida Senate passed the measure last week amid criticism from Democrats, who characterized it as a potential handout for wealthy people who would seek the vouchers.

The Florida Education Association teachers union derided the measure as providing an “$8,000 taxpayer-funded coupon for millionaires and billionaires,” saying in a tweet that the measure is a “terrible idea.”

Supporters, however, said the bill will drive up competition among schools, provide parents with options and ultimately raise the quality of education.

The state will develop an online portal so parents can shop for their options. The program will begin during the next school year.

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