Budget conference: GATE program and scholarships for dropouts pursuing workforce diplomas funded

Budget negotiators put $4M behind program startup and $7M in scholarship funding.

A program offering an alternative education path for high school students now has millions of new dollars backing it up.

In the latest education budget offer, Senate and House negotiators agreed to $4 million for the Graduation Alternative to Traditional Education (GATE) Scholarship Program and $7 million for a related scholarship program.

The $4 million comes out of a Workforce Education silo to cover associated startup costs to the program. The scholarships are budgeted as part of state financial aid for students. The money will be drawn from recurring general revenue.

Both those programs are new ones being created by legislation this Session. The Senate this week unanimously approved a bill (SB 7032), which would waive tuition and fees for those who quit high school but pursue vocational diplomas or workforce credentials in Florida’s state college system.

The bill has yet to be approved in the House, but the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee in its offer to the Senate agreed to putting the dollars behind the program.

The funding, according to proposed language in the budget, would be doled out in grants for school districts and to state colleges and administered by the Florida Department of Education. An application process must be established no later than Aug. 15.

“Applicants must provide projected enrollment and projected costs for their respective GATE programs,” bill text says.

The funding can’t be used for administrative overhead.

“Grant funds may be used to fund the cost of providing related program instruction, for instructional equipment, supplies, instructional personnel, student services, and other expenses associated with the creation of the GATE program.”

The legislation authorizing GATE also creates a program performance fund, but House and Senate appropriations plans differ on when to pay for that. The Senate wants to put $1 million behind that program, while the House has yet to budget anything.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

    March 2, 2024 at 3:04 pm

    Good Afternoon Florida,
    This is Sage Legislation which will keep our precious young Black males from entering gangs as their only option.
    Enter a trade and make up to $100,000 Thousand a year or enter a gang and be wept over by your Grand Mom at the grave yard.
    Our precious young Black males will have a clear choice in Florida if RINO Passadomo does not kill this Sage Legislation.
    Earl Pitts American

  • rick whitaker

    March 3, 2024 at 5:05 pm


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