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Florida’s Step Up Scholarships: Help Families Pay for Private School Education

by Kara Lay-Clark, 

L.E.A.D. Academy Scholarship Coordinator


Thanks to legislation pushed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and approved by the state legislature in recent years, the cost of a K-12 private school education has become affordable for almost all Florida residents. In terms of what ‘almost all’ means at L.E.A.D. Academy; we haven’t had any family denied to date! Everyone that has applied and turned in their paperwork has been approved. Also note; this is a “once in always in” program. You never have to reapply; you just have to confirm each year that you are still eligible, by living in the state of Florida AND attending the private school of your choice. 



Florida’s Step Up for Students Scholarship programs have increased significantly in the past two years and have plans to continue to expand across our county and neighboring counties over the next 2 years by 25-35%! That means that spaces in private schools will be limited; as more families continue to take advantage of their abilities to choose a school. L.E.A.D. Academy plans to stay true to who we are by providing smaller classes and individual/ small group learning opportunities with support staff. We are not seeking to become the largest private school in the area; we are seeking to provide the best education in a fantastic environment all while helping our students form a biblical worldview. 


The privately funded scholarships are managed by the state. There are no stipulations on the school for accepting the scholarships that in any way limit or keep us from operating in the distinctly classical and Christian manner in which we have been doing since the school’s inception. Jesus is and always will be the center of all we do at L.E.A.D! 


Parents apply through the state for the scholarships and once they are approved, parents are in control of where and how the funds are used for their child’s education. Our administration maintains complete control of what and how we teach under the parent choice system. 


For the 2024-25 school year, L.E.A.D. Academy families who receive the full scholarship will pay $1,100 out of pocket in registration and testing, textbook and technology fees ( TTT) not covered by the scholarship. Most families receive the full scholarship, which will most likely cover the $8,000/yr. tuition. Scholarship amounts are voted on by the legislature and approved every year in July. These amounts vary from county to county and between grade levels. Some students will qualify for additional scholarships to help cover transportation, in-class support and athletic fees. However, please note that the majority of families will pay some out of pocket this year as our tuition has increased in order to keep up with increasing expenses.


Thanks to Florida’s Family Empowerment Scholarships, Florida parents can more easily afford a private school education. I am regularly asked why these scholarships don’t pay for the full amount of a L.E.A.D. education? These scholarships are not for the full amount the state would spend to educate a child. While the scholarships are generous, they are only for the FTE portion of funds the state spends. FTE stands for full-time equivalent student and the state allocates so much money for each FTE. In addition, the state helps public schools with monies to build new buildings and maintain the ones they have. Public schools also receive additional funds for purchasing new technology, textbooks, furnishings like desks, chairs and more. Funds for buildings, furnishings, maintenance, etc. that public schools receive is not a part of the scholarships that parents can choose to use at a private school.


The Florida scholarships are allocated on a first come basis so parents do not want to delay applying for them at stepupforstudents.org.


If you have questions about tuition, registration fees, payment schedules, or scholarships, contact the scholarship office at 860-889-7080 option 1 or tonya.pitts@leadacademylions.com. We are here to serve current and future L.E.A.D families. 


Let’s Go Lions!

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