Florida law allows disabled students to better save for college

Gov. Rick Scott signed ABLE Act this week


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Students and adults with disabilities had an up and down year with funding thanks to the state Legislature and governor. That's not stopping young people with disabilities from pursuing their career goals.

Gov. Rick Scott signed the ABLE Act this week, which allows families to deposit up to $100,000 into trust fund accounts to help people with disabilities remain financially independent.

The previous amount was limited to only $2,000.

Ioana Zanchi, 18, who is disabled, said the Able Trust's Youth Leadership Forum helped her decide to go to college and possibly pursue a law degree one day.

"As an individual with a disability, it's all about finding your purpose, and I always feel like it's very important to find a job that you really enjoy," Zanchi said.

Students from across the state hoped to find similar paths Friday. The forum aims to help connect kids with potential careers.

Tyler Von Harten said he's always wanted to be a television weatherman, but it's not easy when you have a disability.

"It's kind of difficult because with a disability, there's a lot of people that have doubts about your presentation as a minority being on television," Von Harten said. "I want to break through that barrier."

The career fair comes in the same week that the governor signed a bill that will allow disabled students to better save for college.

The new law boosts the amount families can save for children with disabilities without being hit with taxes. But there were heavy cuts to the Adults with Disabilities program and a veto for job training and college scholarship programs.

Keynote speaker Neil Romano, who has served in the U.S. Office of Disability Employment and has dyslexia, said that budget cuts matter, but it will take a change in perception to truly enable people with disabilities.

"We have an entire history of saying they can't. We now have to change the mindset and say, 'No, they can.' So you can't change that with dollars," Romano said.

Expect the funding fight in Florida to continue. The programs that were vetoed this year were backed by the state's Senate president.