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Florida Tax Credit Scholarships Send More Students to College, Save Taxpayers Money

Students participating in the popular Florida Tax Credit (FTC) scholarship program are more likely to enroll in college than their peers, according to research released today.

The study, by researchers Matthew Chingos and Daniel Keuhn, finds that attending a private school with an FTC scholarship increases a low-income student’s likelihood of enrolling in college by 15 percent. And the longer students remain in the program, the greater the benefit.

The FTC program began in 2001 and provides low-income families with tuition scholarships to attend private schools. More than 100,000 students are now enrolled in private schools through FTC scholarships, making it the largest private school choice program in the nation.

Chingos and Keuhn compared college enrollment and graduation rates among more than 10,000 FTC students to a comparable group of eligible students who attended the same public schools but never participated in the program.

“We find clear evidence that participants in the nation’s largest private school choice program were more likely to enroll in a community college than similar students who remained in public schools, with larger effects for students who spent more years in the program,” the authors concluded.

The authors noted the increase occurred primarily in community colleges, which “are more financially accessible to the low-income students participating in FTC and are where most Florida students begin their postsecondary education.’’

The 15 percent increase in college attendance is an overall average, with no benefit for students who spent only one year in the program, but great benefits for student enrolled for longer periods of time. For instance, students who spent four years in an FTC school, there was a 43 percent increase in college attendance. Students who spent four years in an FTC school were eight percent more likely to earn an associate’s degree.

Adam Peshek, Director of Education Choice for ExcelinEd, said this latest report shows that this program is helping more students succeed. “This study is one of many studies demonstrating positive outcomes for scholarship students,” Peshek said. “At a time when community leaders, lawmakers and researchers are looking for tools to help more low-income students enroll in higher education, Florida has a program that is successfully doing exactly that.’’