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Family Empowerment Scholarship for Unique Abilities

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1 on Monday, March 27, expanding school choice options in Florida. The changes will take effect on July 1, 2023. We know many of you have questions about what this means for your family.

Following are some highlights from the bill as it impacts FES-UA:

Family Empowerment Scholarship for Unique Abilities

  • Who Is Eligible?
    - Students from age three through grade 12 or age 22, whichever comes first, who have a specific diagnosis are eligible. Click here for the full list of eligible diagnoses.
    - Eligibility does not guarantee admission.  Each potential student must follow the school’s application process. 
  • Can my child who has a sibling receiving a Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA) still receive a Family Empowerment Scholarship for Educational Options (FES-EO)?
    - Yes, everyone eligible for public K-12 school is now eligible for the FES-EO.
    - Click here for a list of these exceptions.
  • Do exemptions to the scholarship enrollment cap still exist for FES-UA?
    - This bill does not impact the cap exemptions on scholarships for students with unique abilities. Exempt students will still be able to receive a scholarship, even if there is a waitlist.
  • Will there be a waitlist for FES-UA next year?
    - The legislature has increased the percentage in which the FES-UA program cap will grow. However, a waitlist will depend on the number of families who apply for the scholarship. We encourage everyone who is eligible to apply when applications become available.
  • How do current recipients of Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities (FES-UA) renew their scholarship for the 2023-2024 school year?
    - Your current SFO (Scholarship Funding Organization) will notify you via email and in your student’s ESA (Educational Savings Account) portal when it is time to complete the renew process.  Please keep an eye out for this communication in the coming weeks.

There are currently two funding organizations that process all the applications for the programs: Step Up for Students and AAA Scholarships. You may choose to apply to either organization or both, but you may only accept one scholarship. AAA Scholarships Organization has already opened their online scholarship applications for the 2023-2024 school year. Step Up for Students will open their applications later in the Spring.

To be notified by Step Up for Students when their applications open, please click here.  Step Up for Students has more detailed information available at Legislative Updates. Please continue checking this page for more updates. Step Up for Students will be adding more information as it is available.

As additional details are provided about this program, we will share them with the school community.