Step Up For Students Logo

Step Up For Students

Is This Your Business?
star star_border star_border star_border star_border
LAST UPDATED: February 28th, 2024

Step Up for Students was founded in 2001 as a scholarship clearinghouse for low income Florida public school students (K-12) to access public schools or transportation to other public schools in a different district. Step Up for Students has a separate scholarship program for students with special needs who may be better served by another school. Step Up for Students offers full and partial scholarships to eligible families.

Top Ranked Companies

thumb_up

The Good

  • Low administrative expenses
  • Low fundraising expenses
  • 98.9 percent program delivery

Administrative Expenses

Step Up for Students spent 0.6 percent of its annual revenue on administrative expenses in 2015. The president and CEO earned an annual salary of $211,787, which is equivalent to 0.05 percent of the annual revenue reported for the year.

Fundraising Expenses

While we are unable to determine past indicators of the amount and percent of income which has been allocated to fundraising activities, there is no reason to suggest that Step Up for Students has experienced a large shift from past years' figures either. For the fiscal year end of June 30, 2015, Step Up for Students allocated 0.4 percent of its annual revenue for fundraising, or $1,547,727. One hundred percent of its funding came from contributions, gifts, and grants.

Program Percentage

Several charity watchdog organizations look for a minimum of 70-80 percent of income being used for program delivery as an indicator of responsible financial practices. Step Up For Children reported a 98.9 percent program delivery rate for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. Further data regarding the average percentage of program delivery for past years is not available. In spite of this lack of information, there is no reason to suggest that Step Up for Students does not maintain this excellent percentage of program delivery regularly.

Donor Communication

Step Up for Students sends its donors regular communication and updates via email newsletter or postal mailers. Interested parties may sign up for emailed newsletters, or follow Step Up for Students via their social media channels. The organization operates accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Awards

While not an award, Step Up for Students achieved a perfect four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog organization for its fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. This rating is rare among charitable organizations. The area which Charity Navigator most often finds lacking and negatively affects a charity's rating is the lack of a clear donor privacy policy online.
thumb_down

The Bad

  • Issues with accounting
  • Transparency with financial information
  • Negative press

Total Income

Income figures are taken from past information reported to Charity Navigator. There is some question about a sizable annual excess income, which in 2015, was equal to about 20 percent of the organization's annual revenue. Exact breakdowns of income and expenses are not available from Charity Navigator for past years. 2015: $457,825,632 2014: $332,463,277 2013: $310,799,794 2012: $267,447,702 The lack of accounting of such a sizable percentage of income is alarming, especially when the charity addresses disappointed parents on social media saying that there is not enough to go around for all children.

Accessible Financial Information

Unlike many other charitable organizations, Step Up for Students does not disclose past years' financial information on its website to the public. This lack of transparency is alarming and would need remediation receiving a higher score on our site.

Negative Press

Discrepancies in Figures Step Up for Students has been accused of hoarding funds and not fully disclosing its financial records by several Florida Residents. According to some sources, after reviewing financial records, there is an approximate 3 percent discrepancy between the reported number and amount of the scholarships given and the income. The organization reports a total of 1 percent of its income being used for administrative and fundraising combined. Since the organization is not very transparent with its financial information for past years, there is some concern as to what and where the discrepancy lies. Accusations and Implications that Step Up for Students "Purchases" Votes While the above point questions the allocation and transparency of funds, there is another issue which may explain the "missing" funds. Step Up for Students stated to news sources that the organization is active politically and contributes up to $1 million to political causes or candidates every other election cycle. There have been allegations that Step Up for Students "buys" politicians' support, and there are legal ramifications of a nonprofit agency being involved in political races. It is notable that the organization disclosed information to other charity watchdogs, which have given the charity high rankings.
gavel

The Bottom Line

Step Up for Students offers scholarships for low income students in Florida allowing them to take advantage of private schools or transportation to public schools which better meet their educational needs which are not in their district. This program serves students in families whose income is equivalent or less than 200 percent of the current year's poverty guideline. There is significant concern about the organization's lack of transparency. There appears to be a large percentage of excess income which is not otherwise accounted for each year, according to the figures given to Charity Navigator. Clearly, a downside of this scholarship program for most is its geographic limitations. Step Up for Students is only available in Florida. There are many complaints on the organization's social media about the application process and receiving a scholarship, with many stating that they do not receive timely responses or that they receive conflicting information from the organization.
Was this content helpful?
thumb_up Yes thumb_down No

Star Rating

info

1.1

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

44 Reviews

Review Breakdown

5 grade

2%

4 grade

0%

3 grade

0%

2 grade

0%

1 grade

98%

Sentiment Criteria

Value

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Quality

star star_half star_border star_border star_border

Service

star star_half star_border star_border star_border

Trustworthiness

star star_border star_border star_border star_border
cancel

Filter by:

arrow_drop_down

Sort by:

arrow_drop_down
info
star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Anne Ianniccheri Miami, FL

I’m just wondering if anybody has thought about going to the media in regards to all the problems that step up for students is having.  I have spent endless hours, trying to get resolution for my son’s missing funds. In 2023 he had a remaining balance of over $9000. In September 2024 His funds were transferred from AAA scholarship to step up for student scholarship. I have the information as far as who AAA spoke to and have provided them with the ACH wire transfer. I have sent SUFS this information over 20 times via email. I have called endless times, and as nice as the people are working there they have no ability to solve any issues.. I have notified the Department of Education multiple times, and I have called the house and the Senate legislators and informed them of my issue. I feel everyone else’s frustration and I’m wondering why nothing is being done about this mess. 😡 I’m just trying to help him get the tools he needs. I’m a relative caregiver who has adopted 4 children in my 60’s and just trying to keep it all together. So frustrating

1 week ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Romy Soto Tampa, FL

Absolute scam by the Florida inept government . We applied 4/2023 and have yet to receive any funds for our private school education , they keep saying to wait and wait . They must be investing our money to make profits while parents are anxiously waiting

5 days ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Grace Tekampe Valrico, FL

This "scholarship" is so horrible, we're debating pulling our daughter out of school now because we can't afford it and they haven't reimbursed us a DIME! Let's call it what it actually is - a "REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAM", NOT a scholarship, because you have to pay for school tuition out of your OWN pocket and it may or may not get approved! Then you get to go into debt for something you were promised was covered - sounds lovely, doesn't it?! I will NEVER deal with this scholarship again next year or in the future, trust me when I say it is NOT worth the headache. So many providers who used to be "direct pay" providers through the scholarship don't take it anymore because their system is a dumpster fire and they don't get paid. That alone should tell you enough about this program.

2 weeks ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Steve

The new Education Market Assistant (EMA) system is HORRIBLE. I spent money on my child's tuition 134 days ago (September 2023). The reimbursement requests were submitted on November 10th (the day I received funds). The status is "InReview" and never changes. Customer service says 60 days for reimbursement requests (hint, 134 > 60), the debit card they provided was a nightmare to get funds off of for the first reimbursement requests...no one has a clue what's going on. Meanwhile, the legacy system, Gardiner, are processing payments within a week of submitting reimbursement requests. They should have never changed to EMA. As of today, I'm out nearly $6,000 in missing reimbursements for my child.

3 weeks ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Sofia Parraga

What SUFS does is short of sinister, it is abominable. Having parents incur in all these expenses, based on the belief that funds are available to be reimbursed and those reimbursements NEVER happen. I have reimbursement requests that were submitted more than 90 days ago, and I'm still waiting, still calling, still no answer on why (although all paperwork has been submitted) reimbursements have not been approved. Simply OUTRAGEOUS.

3 weeks ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Hunter

I was approved for funds after applying in may 2023. I have never been able to access the funds that my son was approved to receive. Thousands of dollars supposedly sitting in an account (i don't believe the $ is really there), waiting to be used for the 2023-2024 school year and I have yet to receive one penny of it and the year is more than half over. I have made multiple phone calls - tracked by my original ticket # since the summer, and I have emailed Step Up for Students multiple times, and I have NEVER received one follow up call/response from any one. The State of Florida governing board needs to be investigating this company. We will find out about the corruption because ineptitude is not what is going on here.

1 month ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Jo Gomez Fort Myers, FL

If there was an option to provide zero stars I would. My fiancé and I applied to this scholarship as recommended by my autistic’s son therapist. Our experience with Step Up to Student for reimbursement has been highly unsatisfactory and fraught with difficulties. Attempting to contact their customer service is a frustrating and time-consuming process, often requiring an hour to an hour and a half of waiting on hold without any guarantee of resolution. Furthermore, despite assurances of note-taking, it appears that there is a severe lack of communication within the organization, leaving us in the dark regarding the status of our reimbursement. This situation arose from our son's need for speech therapy, which he is now lacking due to the failure of Step Up to Student to provide the promised support. Additionally, their mishandling of reimbursements has resulted in significant credit card debt for our family. Despite their initial claim that reimbursement would take 60 days, we have not received any payment since September. As we enter a new school year, the financial burden continues to mount, hindering our ability to provide the necessary resources for our son's education. We have taken the appropriate steps by submitting notarized invoices and credit card statements, but have encountered a lack of managerial assistance or further support from the company. It is deeply disconcerting that an organization like Step Up to Student, which claims to be non-profit, would exhibit such poor professionalism and integrity. By requiring extensive documentation from families and then failing to disburse funds in a timely manner, they create an environment that raises suspicions about their intentions. It is distressing to think that the funds meant to support autistic children's education may be misappropriated for personal gain, leaving these vulnerable students without the resources they desperately need.

1 month ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Erin Olive Melbourne, FL

Would give 0 stars. Company is wasting tax payer money. Also lied and stayed that all renewal scholarship students would get first right for PEP scholarships but they have so many errors they never honored their written word. Causing juniors and seniors to miss half a school year and loose out on other abilities to apply for future scholarships. They ruined students futures and should be held accountable in court!

1 month ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

donna hansen Boca Raton, FL

Absolutely abysmal. I don't have the vocabulary to describe what a disaster SUFS is. SUFS does NOT distribute the money to the families of the students with disabilities. SUFS is supposed to fund the scholarships, but they don't answer the phone or e-mails. So, parents of students with disabilities are just out the money, and SUFS ignores us and never actually gives us the money. It's really sad that we were duped into incurring these expenses, believing that we would be reimbursed for the costs. Now, we're just out thousands of dollars, and SUFS has disappeared from all communication.

1 month ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

elvira lillian Miami, FL

My daughter was awarded 8,070 for the transportation scholarship. She attends a Miami dade school and we live in broward. I applied in June 2023. It’s Now January 9, 2024 and I have yet to receive a check!!!!! I was told I was getting 1400 mailed out. But if the Miami dade school is approaching their second grading period January 18, 2024… then why haven’t I received anything yet!! And the bigger question is why I am only getting 1400 if my daughter was awarded 8,070…..

1 month ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Daniel Williams FL

Absolutely horrendous. They will not accept reimbursements although I have given them everything available and exactly what they asked for, time and time again. We are coming and staying out of pocket. The wait times are typically 1.5 hrs to get a rep on the phone, who ends up giving new things needed, then the cycle continues.

1 month ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Kayla Sweet Fort Lauderdale, FL

We just got approved for the step up scholarship for the unique abilities this school year and so far it’s been a nightmare! Funding never comes on the date they say. We’re currently waiting for November funds and tomorrow it will be Dec.1st. We owe tuition and owe providers all because of the funds delay. When you call the Step up program to get answers you wait on the line for 30 mins or more and then when you ask a question they can Never give you a specific answer. Only the answers from the parent handbook or from an email that they sent out. Why would I call them, to find out what I already know? I have not done reimbursements yet but I certainly am not thrilled to start that process with them. Provides have told me that they rather us pay out of pocket and have Step up reimburse us due to Step up not providing funds on time! I don’t think we’re going to use this scholarship next school year. It’s not even worth the headache

3 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Erika Graterol West Palm Beach, FL

Honestly horrible program. My child was "granted" in the FES-UA scholarship and I was told it would be funded Sept 1 and Nov 1. Within the EMA website it says he has been funded but there is no way to access those funds even though every time I submit a reimbursement it shows the funds withdrawing that amount from "total available funds." I am trying to get more SLP services for my child but has yet to be reimbursed for ANY services starting July 1. I wasn't even able to submit the reimbursements till mid September. I was then told to wait 60 days for the reimbursement from submission. It has been more than 60 days and I was told that it is not "in review" but that reviewing of the reimbursement request can take another 60 days. I have called multiple times submitted multiple requests. I asked the representative how it can be in review for so long. It makes no sense. I asked how tasks are even completed do they just open for in review then never go back to it?? Do they not complete a single case/task at a time? It is an invoice for a licensed SLP therapist and proof of payment. Every representative I talked to says everything looks okay to them but they aren't the "processors" I asked to speak with the processor to insure she wouldn't come back to me after another 60 day only to tell me she needs additional information and was just told "yea sorry this is just how it works." This is so discouraging because I was hoping to be able to set up services for 2-3 times week but I can't wait 120 days for funds. Its ridiculous and I wish there was more to be done.

3 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Megan Dennis Orlando, FL

If I could give zero stars I would. My daughter was awarded the FES-UA scholarship and it was approved. The funds sit there until you jump through multiple hoops to submit the proper forms to Step up for reimbursement. Nothing seems to be enough for actual proof of payment. Not even the bill that shows paid. I have emailed, and called over and over and it's an epic fail on their part. I don't understand why my daughters school is an approved vendor, but they are not listed in the drop down area to select so the funds can go directly there!! I literally just want the funds sent directly to the school. What a waste of time, effort and $. Horrible. Horrible.

3 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Courtney Lanute Fort Myers, FL

I am a qualified provider for, well, pretty much anyone. Two of my clients use "Step Up" as their service, so while I have given them all the paperwork AND my sensitive financial and personal information, they don't understand that they wrote the "handbook" that I followed. They denied me, even after being far more qualified than anyone working there. They told me my transcripts weren't official (they were, it was stamped in five places) and that they didn't show my conferred degrees (they did, literally on the first page on the left side). They keep referring me to a manual that says official transcripts are accepted, but all they really wanted was to steal my personal information. Why else would they lie or seem SO unbelievably incompetent, disorganized, unprofessional, and ridiculous. I need to get paid for my services, for which I am far more than qualified and capable. In fact, I would like to see the transcripts of the people "refusing" me, as I am sure they don't have any.

3 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Phillip Redd

No office, wont aend physical mail, hour long hold times, limited application windows of time to enroll.... it ia like they want you to fail so they can keep saying "there is nothing we can do to help you"

1 month ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Not what it seems Rockledge, FL

This is our first year using SUFS, and it will be our last. My child was awarded the PEP scholarship which we were excited about. It would open up new doors for our child's education...or so we thought. Dealing with SUFS has been a nightmare. We have spent hundreds of dollars purchasing things for our child's education, submitted receipts and the proper forms to them only to get met with radio silence. We were told if we used their scholarshop feature everything on that platform was already preapproved. As long as we had money in our account all we needed to do is go to the preapproved stores, shop, add the items to the cart and SUFS would do the rest. We haven't received a dime of reimburments or any of the promised merchandise we've ordered from the Scholarshop. I called yesterday to inquire about everything and was given the very general "no time frame can be given" excuse once again. How in the world are we suppose to educate our children using scholarship money that isn't being processed? I was told it can take up to 2 months before any reimbursments are made. Our family can't afford to spend hundreds of dollars on items with the hopes that one day we might get reimbursed for the items. Also, scholarshop isn't as cut and dry and they promised. You don't know if or when you'll get the items that you ordered. We ordered a couple packs of pens, and a book and it's showing "waiting on approval." Now I have a child that's left disappointed because we told them we can't afford to purchase and more extra stuff until we get some of our money back for the reimbursments we've already paid for. Also, the customer service person I spoke to yesterday said the upper management told them to "keep us in the dark" about things. His words, not mine. He said he was just as frustrated as I was because they have no answers for us. They are told to refer to the handbook just like we are. It sounds to me like there's some shady stuff going on and this company needs to be investigated. We can't wait for 2 or more months to get a math book approved with scholarship money that was awarded to our children. I'm going to wait another month or so to see if any of this actually pans out. If it don't, then I'm bailing out of this program. It seems like a scam because it's been over 2 months since my child was "awarded" this scholarship but we haven't seen one penny of it yet.

4 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Nicole Evans Tampa, FL

This seems to be the only site you can give your honest review and not get cancelled. It seems as though Step Up only wants positive Google reviews and someone is filtering out bad reviews. This has happened to many people I know. This is one of the problems with Step Up. One of the issues are that it takes over 60 days to get reimbursed. As a single parent with limited income, I have gotten to the point where I can't afford the 60 plus days to get my money back. My daughter is missing out on some valuable resources due to this. Trying to get in contact with someone at Step Up is a nightmare, and when you do, it seems they have no idea what they're talking about. I have now resorted to asking other parents who receive the scholarship instead, because the incompetence is outstanding. We are being forced to use a US bank card that we never consented to for reimbursement. We were lied to about being able to use Zelle to transfer money out, and it seems as the only way to get your money back is jumping through some serious hoops. Someone on the Step Up board is associated with US Bank. Major conflict of interest. What is happening at Step Up? This is our fourth year receiving it and this is the first year it has been a complete disaster!

4 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Rachel Alonso Miami, FL

The scholarship management with SUFS has been nothing short of a disaster. Their call center is completely undertrained and offers no insight or support. They offer no guidance as to the never ending issues. When they do finally award you and make funds available the reimbursement process is so cumbersome that it makes it impossible for those most vulnerable low income families to actually utilize the scholarship. When reimbursements can take over 60 days(60 days for them to decide to review your request and either approve or reject it). Their decision to force families to also use a special bank cards which seems questionable has also brought its own slew of issues. To avoid dealing with reimbursement nightmare many families are forced to buy extremely overpriced items on their shop. Delivery can take weeks which is problematic when you need the purchases to educate your kids now not two months from now. They are completely mismanaging funds meant for our children and it shows the scholarship itself is amazing but I do not recommend SUFS management of it.

4 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

music maker

My children have been with this scholarship since the first year. We have seen many ups and downs and rolled with them all, but this year, Step Up for Students is on the edge of being downright fraudulent. Their lack of compliance with the letter of the law on things such as funding dates, renewal priority is not ok. Parents are being forced to get reimbursements on a card from a bank whose Florida Market Manager is on the Step up For Students advisory board, (How is that not a conflict of interest!! They do not even have a physical location for one of their banks in FL AT ALL)This card will cost parents more money, more inconvenience and sets them up for HUGE problems if they are self employed or on programs like SSI for their disabled children. Another issue is that Private schools and other vendors are not even getting paid at all, let alone on time, all due to Step Up For Students lack of ability to handle the scholarship funds! There are special needs children who have not been able to get the things they need to EVEN BEGIN THEIR SCHOOLING AND WE ARE NOW IN OCTOBER!! Step Up For Students needs to do better. They made changes where none were needed and set up a new program for parents to use that doesn't even work yet but some parents are still forced to have to just sit and wait until Step Up For Students gets around to fixing it. And we are being told by Step up For Students that they have no time frame for when things will be fixed. UNACCEPTABLE! In addition, when they expanded this scholarship, they promised the services for Unique Abilities children would not be reduced and this most definitely has not happen. The services for Unique Abilities children has been GREATLY reduced. The scholarship itself is wonderful thing and so very, very helpful for children with unique abilities, but the people that are handling the funds (Step Up For Students) are just not doing a good job at all. You can't hardly get anyone to even address any issues you are having. Children's information is being given to the wrong parents and children that should have been renewals for this year were not even funded on time and some not at all. There NEEDS to be some accountability here! Parents do not even have any access to even a basic ledger to even begin to try to see what is going on with their child's funding. This is not ok. Step Up For Students needs to be held accountable to do what they were hired to do. These children are counting on it.

4 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Dr. Carmen McGuinness Altamonte Springs, FL

According to Florida law regarding the payment of scholarship funds, CS/HB7045 / hb7045-03 (2021) reads.... "Upon receiving the documentation, the department shall release, from state funds only, the student’s scholarship funds to the organization, to be deposited into the student’s account in four equal amounts NO LATER THAN September 1, November 1, February 1, and April 1 of each school year in which the scholarship is in force." That's the law. Yet... the students weren't "funded" on the 1st of September, or the 2nd or 3rd, They were funded on the 13th. But apparently "funding" means nothing, because still today (September 20th) their parents have no access to get their students' funds to the schools who serve them. Where are the funds? Only Step Up for Students, perhaps only CEO Doug T or maybe Chief Financial Officer Jeff P knows where the money is. What is certain is parents don't know, school administrators don't know, and the teachers who serve children UNPAID don't know. We have all asked. We've spent hours on hold, we've emailed, submitted help desk tickets, watched videos that offer details which conflict with what we told after 90-minutes on hold. Yet we still don't know. What we do know is that this organization is shameful and shameless. We don't know why they are acting badly, but we can imagine. And we can read the various audits, news articles, and business and governmental complaints against them over the years, and we might assume this time is something similar, only OH SO MUCH MORE money to hold on to. And the one thing we know for certain is that it's time to organize. School administrators... check your email. We ARE getting organized.

5 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Anaiya Roberts Deerfield Beach, FL

I have applied for the UA scholarships for both of my daughters who have IEPs. One is on a waitlist. I received an email stating that since my daughter is enrolled in a public school, her application will be closed. But how can I enroll her in a private school without having her scholarship funding? This seems ridiculous and was not the way the McKay Scholarship was run. They can't receive the scholarship if they are enrolled in a private school, but there is no guarantee that they will receive funding this year and if they dont, the private school will want their tuition of $15k or more. This is a disgrace and a disservice to students with disabilities who are forced to remain in a public school. What happened to School Choice? This is not giving parents a choice. Why is funding limited when it wasn't limited under the McKay scholarship. Please bring back the McKay!

5 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Adison Orange Park, FL

I've been with them for 4yrs and they've been good until now. They don't respond to emails, it take over an hour to get a representative, I've been told different things from different reps, and they haven't fixed my account and it has been over 3mos. As of now, I feel like they are just stealing money from FL residents.

3 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Sharlene Waswick Gainesville, FL

Wish it could be zero stars. This is our first year. The options are limited. We do not have the money up front to wait around for reimbursements. It seems to be more trouble than it is worth when we have to submit so much for approval and/ or to prove why we needed to buy something. In addtion, we cannot enroll in any local activities such as dance or gymnastics because we cannot afford to pay for classes and then wait to be paid back.

4 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Nakira Khadafi Miami, FL

The worst program . My child has been using step up for 3 years . Renewed everything before time and my daughter is still left on a wait list . No special needs public school near me . So I have to try paying 215 a week until her scholarship is actually awarded. On top of not being able to communicate with anyone no board members emails phone nothing .no real help or customer service

4 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

yolanda jones

This just happened, per the EMA address must be updated before orders are to be submitted. But due to their poor IT some orders come to the updated address and then some to the old. Customer service serves no purpose as they can never do anything of meaning. This was their screw up but I have to clean the mess up. Requested a supervisor it takes 3-5 business days to discuss anything. Best buy or step up do not want to admit fault and its exhausting for an issue that I didn't cause.

4 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Quashonda Williams Ormond Beach, FL

The process is very slow, even if you get your application in on time. School has started and I still haven’t received anything through this company. It’s hard to speak with a representative, due to “high call volume .” When you are able to speak to someone about the status of your application, they can’t tell you much on why your application is on pending status so long. All they do is write a note and put in a service ticket but it doesn’t speed up the process at all. It’s been almost a month and a half now, since my application was turned in. (I think they pick a choose application) They offer all of these scholarships but make you wait for months before you no if your granted the awards or not. Have you in debt. long story short, it’s a mess and if I could give this company a zero I would.

6 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Aimee Cruz Tampa, FL

I have two children that have been awarded the FES-UA (formerly McKay, Guadiner) for the past 4 years. For the 2023/24 school year, I applied for the "renewal" the day it opened in May. It is now July 17th, 2023 and my youngest still is showing "submitted" on the EMA website and my oldest shows nothing. How ever, according to Step Up for Students, the old system shows that both of my children show "approved", and the funds have been awarded. I have been given every excuse in the book for the delay. As of right now, the latest excuse (for the past month), is that it is an IT issue and the old system is not connecting with the new system. But even though they have both received the scholarship, they refuse to give me the "award ID" so that I am able to pay both my kids tuition. Between my husband and I, we have easily spent over 25 hours on hold (as I am typing this, I am 1 HOUR AND 27 MINUTES and counting ON HOLD), we have had 3 escalation tickets, one of which was an escalation on top of the escalation, 4 separate requests for a Supervisor to call us AND NOT ONE HAS CALLED US BACK, numerous e mails sent all of which have been responded to with a BOILER PLATE RESPONSE, not even close to addressing the issue AND countless times attempting the LIVE CHAT, WHICH NO ONE HAS EVER GOTTEN ON. We have never in the past had any issues with Step Up for Students, so I am wondering if this all falls on EMA (Education Market Assistant), which I am assuming is a platform who won by the lowest bid and clearly are incapable of handling this. I have now called the FLORIDA GOVERNOR RON DeSANTIS' OFFICE, as well at STATE REPRESENTATIVE, TRACI KOSTER and not shocking....NO CALL BACK. At this point, either I make an INPERSON VISIT to STEP UP FOR STUDENTS in JACKSONVILLE, and/or what else?.....CHANNEL 8 NEWS ON YOUR SIDE???? This is a disgrace and shame on those in TALLAHASSEE that are supposed to be working for the people of Florida and overseeing our children's education. As said in other reviews, if I could give negative stars I would.

7 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Evelyn Parker Lake Mary, FL

Every time I call it takes 1.5 to 2.5 hours of sitting on hold to get someone to answer. I have been working on this application since the end of May 2023 to get one of my children’s renewal applications done. My child on the unique abilities scholarship was completed within 2 weeks but the other child’s continues to be placed on hold( which should not have ever happened because when my special needs child is awarded, the other child should automatically receive hers also. That’s what the Step Up website states….. Here it is July and I am still trying to get it completed. I was asked for income documents which I faxed over because the EMA( Educational Marketing Assistant) didn’t allow a place to upload the information. I called to verify that they had it and was told that they did. I even received an email that my student was approved for the FTS-EO 2023-24 school year and that I should log on to the EMA to get the award letter. I log on to find out that her application had been placed back on hold for not providing income verification. I call them again, and after 2 hours & 40 minutes, they answered & told me that they didn’t have the information. I have begged to speak to a supervisor but have been told multiple times that they would expedite it, and someone will contact me, but that has never happened. Still waiting…… Evelyn Parker

7 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Mangini Family Titusville, FL

Step Up for Students has hired a team of people who can't process the applications or answer with accurate information. They have held funds from over 200 private schools, and more providers. Where is the money? #payupstepup #stepuporstepdown

4 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Mac Plant City, FL

They continue to put my account "on hold" because they say they haven't received proof of address. How many times do I need to send the same proof of address to get the ball rolling? Finally they received my drivers license and they- again- place the account on hold because it isn't my husband's drivers license?? I feel they make every excuse to avoid paying out the scholarship. I've also waited on hold for over an hour, only for the representative to "pretend" they cannot hear me on the phone, then they hang-up.

7 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Serena Schwartz Ruskin, FL

I guess the longer this clearinghouse can find excuses not to reimburse parents for expenses that they have to pay out of pocket the richer they get. I submitted my receipts and 3 weeks later they are saying that the receipt isn't sufficient even though it was through FACTS management for enrollment. The customer support is nonexistent they are literally reading scripted responses. If they don't have a response they escalate the problem to a ticket so that a manager can respond, this is a joke because a manager is never going to respond. The long waits and hurdles that are being put in place to prevent parents from being reimbursed should be looked at.

10 months ago

check_circle

Review Source

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Patience Imaku Fort Lauderdale, FL

Just needed to fix a simple profile issue and can't do it on the website. so i called the 800 number and was on hold for 1 hr and 20 minutes just for me to have another 5 minutes of radio silence and then for the AGENT to tell me she is having issues hearing me... i heard her fine and had not even had a chance to speak!!!! the entire time she is speaking im saying i can hear you i can hear you.. can you hear me can you hear me?,.. and then the phone disconnects!!!!! Absolutely unacceptable. the online chat is also of no use/good! Just horrible all around.

9 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Jessica Burke Pensacola, FL

This organization needs to be investigated. The customer service phone reps that deal with the people applying first hand are zero help. I was informed all my documents were received and we were in line for processing, only to be denied for a missing document. If someone is sent a list of things needed, sends everything in requested, verified everything is received, they should have the peace of mind that the process is in place. Y'all are pushing the finish line back on parents and changing the rules as you go. To say this organization is disappointing is an understatement, do better.

11 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Keri K Blairsville, GA

If I could give zero stars, I would! This teaches children that soliciting and (borderline harassing$ family and friends to donate to their school will “make them rich” “give tj prizes” and socioeconomically divides children. At my sons school they were segregated by colored wrist bands. Those with only certain colors or who “raised” funds were eligible for prizes why the other kids sat back and watched- winning nothing. Kids were crying, by boys came home with nothing and said they felt like losers and asked “are we poor!” We need to teach children that community work earns prizes; not money handed to them and the kid with the most wins. Disgusting concept! All schools Should be audited with the proceeds. Their school is a Title 1 public charter who has new everything! We are in a rural community and divided by this concept. What’s next? If you don’t sell enough candy bars for your soccer team you can’t play? What about all the kids who receive free lunch must wear a wristband everyday- I am livid and the fight has just begun!

4 years ago

check_circle

Review Source

star star star star star

MichelleBraun Orlando, FL

Chat was very helpful and gave the answers .kielly was very good customer service

7 months ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Susan Chesser Lakeland, FL

SUFS is an awful organization. Just this month they mismanaged over a million dollars of tax payer funds earmarked for special needs children. Over 4,000 renewal students are still waiting on the funding promised in the law. SUFS refuses to give a clear answer about when these funds will be available, yet they continue to fund new applicants and advertise for new applicants. This organization is not fit to run a lemonade stand, much less manage millions of dollars in education funds.

2 years ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Michael S Yucaipa, CA

Let's tell it exactly how it is - this is spam at its lowest, exploiting kids and pressuring families to participate in spamming friends and relatives so the kid doesn't feel left out depressingly from a day of fun and games. Had to teach my kid what this is similar to - telemarketing calls, robocalls, and scammers. Schools that participate in this are either ignorant or are receiving a pay check under the table. Plain and simple. Tore up the printed sheets and not participating with this idiocy.

4 years ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

AX San Diego, CA

I do NOT support step it up. If it were just a donation at a local school I would gladly donate but step it up is just spam. Students spam their parents, friends, and family emails about donating not because they want their schools to be better, but because they want a prize. Students get prizes for spamming the most people for prizes, and step it up automatically subscribes your email to their news and sends follow up emails.

5 years ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Jason Wells Long Beach, CA

They do a great job getting the kids so excited to raise money in order to win prizes. The prizes end up being complete JUNK and almost every kid in our school walked away mad and disappointed. I'm not sure how much of a percentage they take from what we raised, but we are telling our school to NEVER do business with them again. False advertising in the prizes too. My boys were MAD. I was embarrassed that I got so many friends and family to give money.

6 years ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

ADAM JACKSON Sanford, FL

Started my application in April . Still pending in August 3 to 4 week to get a response. I work hard being a single parent. I do not believe it is to much to ask for timely communication. If I were to be a single female parent this matter would have already been handed. Justice for all as long as you're not a single male parent. It is not the first time I have run in to this even the court system makes it harder to get things taken care of .

7 years ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Maria Alvarado Orlando, FL

I apply on the first day it opened on may and it is still pending. They have sent me emails saying that they were going to close the application and I asked them why? Because I put all the paperwork needed. I'm still waiting and it's the third week of September.

1 year ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Olivia Pasadena, TX

1) all of the “prizes” are available at the dollar store 2) it’s bribing children so they can go home, ask their parents for money not for helping the school but for the so-called prizes.

4 years ago

star star_border star_border star_border star_border

Nir T New York, NY

its money and it helps but what a horrible process, hard to understand and impossible to reach anyone. hold times are laterally hours

2 months ago