FL-DOE Tuition Support Program

Recruiting and retaining highly qualified SLPs to serve in public schools is a challenging priority for school districts nationwide (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2016) and especially in Florida.  Speech-Language Pathology as a profession is projected to grow by 21% by 2024 (www.bls.gov).  Recruitment and retention of school-based SLPs are impacted by caseload size, paperwork burden, and salaries (ASHA, 2016).  The Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services (BEESS) of the Florida Department of Education (FL-DOE) promotes recruitment and retention of school-based SLPs through innovative tuition support partnerships.  An ongoing partnership between FL-DOE and Florida State University (FSU) has allowed the program to shift and reflect state priorities.

The FL-DOE Tuition Support program funds 40-50 students enrolled in any nationwide accredited Master’s Programs in Communication Disorders.  BEESS provides tuition reimbursement directly to the graduate student. Students commit to two years of service obligation per year of funding.  Bachelor’s level SLPs can serve in Florida public schools for up to three years until they obtain full certification or licensure. FSU administers the program, provides mentoring to students, focusing on small and rural districts, and offers professional development on school-based content throughout the year.

School-Based Mentoring & Supports

Each semester students can access:

  • Content-based webinars on relevant school-based topics (MTSS, STEM, and supporting literacy in the classroom) by state and national experts.
  • A dedicated website and a Facebook group linking students to state and national resources and projects that support public-school professionals.
  • Opportunities to interact with cohort members via discussion boards, emails, announcements to build a sense of community among school-based SLPs, reinforcing their identity as public school professionals. Building a community of practice helps reinforce students’ perceptions of themselves as public school professionals (Kuh, 2012). 
  • Former students working in the schools share their stories, creating a network of professionals.
  • Monthly calendars of activities are sent via email to link students to local professional development opportunities.
  • Individual mentoring to support retention as needed.

Student Eligibility Requirements

Accepted or enrolled in accredited Master’s Programs in Communication Disorders,

A Florida resident,

Able to commit to two years of service in the Florida public schools per year of funding after graduation, and

Ready and eager to support Florida’s kids to develop strong communication skills.

For more information on or apply to the FL-DOE Tuition Support Program, please visit the project website.