Florida Corporations Step Up Support for Low-Income Students

Published February 1, 2005

In 2004, Florida corporations significantly increased their participation in Step Up for Students, the state’s two-year-old program intended to provide children in low-income families with tax-credit-funded scholarships for attending the private or public K-12 school of their choice. By early December, year-to-date donations were running 18 percent ahead of 2003, according to Step Up for Students spokesperson Denise Lasher.

Donations reached the tax credit cap of $50 million for 2004 on December 2, 2004, with more than 50 corporations participating, according to information from the Florida Department of Revenue. The tax credit limits are $47.5 million for large corporations and $2.5 million for small corporations.

The program, also known as the Florida Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program, allows corporations a 100 percent income tax credit for donations they make to K-12 scholarship organizations that serve children in low-income families.

“Thanks to Florida corporations, this year over 11,500 Florida students whose families have an average household income of only $23,000 are able to attend a K-12 grade private or public school that best meets their individual needs,” said Lasher.

Under the tax credit legislation, the 2004 tax credit cap was raised from the 2003 level of $50 million to $88 million. But the state legislature rolled the cap back to $50 million during 2004 because of budget problems. In 2005 the $88 million cap will be restored, and Lasher expects even more corporations to participate than in 2004. Any Florida corporation with a state income tax liability can participate in the Step Up for Students Program, she notes.

“If anyone is in doubt about the excellent benefits of this program, they should visit with these fantastic children,” said Miguel “Mike” Fernandez, CEO of Coral Gables-based CarePlus Health Plans, Inc. “Spending time with some of the kids was a terrific experience, and I urge more Florida corporations to participate in this innovative program to help the children of our state receive the best education possible.”

George A. Clowes ([email protected]) is associate editor of School Reform News.

For more information …

Further information on Florida’s Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program, including how to participate as a donor or recipient, is available online at http://www.stepupforstudents.com.