In 2018, the Florida Legislature created the Hope Scholarship Program to give public school children in Florida relief from bullying and violence. The scholarship gives parents the opportunity to transfer their child to another K-12 public school with available capacity within the school district, receive a scholarship to transport the student to a public school in another school district, or to request a scholarship for the student to attend an eligible private school. Step Up For Students is administering the private school and transportation options for the Hope Scholarship.
A qualifying incident must have taken place at a public K-12 educational institution, any school-related or school-sponsored program or activity, riding on the school bus or waiting at the school bus stop. Qualifying incidents include battery; harassment; hazing; bullying; kidnapping; physical attack; robbery; sexual offenses, harassment, assault or battery; threat or intimidation; or fighting at school as defined by the Florida Department of Education in accordance with s. 1006.09(6).
Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, once a parent or child submits a report of an incident, the school principal, or his/her designee, will provide a copy of the report to the parent and investigate the incident. Once the investigation is complete, or within 15 days after the incident was reported, whichever occurs first, the principal, or his/her designee, will notify the parent about the Hope Scholarship Program, and provide the documentation required for Step Up For Students to determine scholarship eligibility.
The Hope Scholarship Program is not based on financial need. Families may choose between transferring to another public school within the school district, financial assistance toward private school tuition and fees, or transportation costs to attend a public school in another district.
Both the private school scholarship and the transportation scholarship have the same eligibility requirements.
Applications, including all supporting documents, are processed in the order they are received and scholarships are awarded pending funding availability. Scholarship funding can be transferred to other eligible schools if the student moves within the state, or simply wants to attend a different participating private school.
The student may keep the scholarship – depending on available funding and notification of renewal – until the student returns to public school or graduates from high school, whichever occurs first.