I’m not sure I could have graduated from college without Warner University and the EASE voucher that helped me pay tuition.

I was not the best student in high school. I focused on my baseball career, and I was good at it. Warner University recruited me to pursue my baseball career as their team’s pitcher. When I heard about their small class sizes and their focus on helping students, I was convinced this was the right place for me.

University tuition is expensive. The Florida EASE voucher helped me pay the bills.

EASE is the school voucher for effective access to student education funded by the Florida Legislature. Students who reside in Florida and choose to attend independent, nonprofit institutions of higher learning are eligible to receive $2,841 per year toward their tuition. This voucher gives students access to earning a degree and the ability to choose the school that is right for them.

As an undergraduate at Warner University, I had to balance my classes with a busy schedule of practices and games.

That’s why I’m grateful to Lynn Johnson. As head of the business department, she oversaw my major and many of the classes I was enrolled in. Even with her plate full of responsibilities, she made students like me her top priority. Microeconomics, macroeconomics, and business statistics were difficult concepts, especially given the baseball team’s demands on my time. But with Johnson’s help, I excelled in my classes. My teammates and I spent time in his office studying concepts and taking tests we missed.

Thanks to his leadership and mentorship, I completed my bachelor’s degree in just four years. Thanks to his inspiration, I am now on my way to obtaining my master’s degree in business.

There are over 46,000 other students across Florida, just like me. They are Florida residents who chose to attend an independent, nonprofit institution of higher education because it was right for them. Many of these schools are faith-based like Warner. Most of these schools have small class sizes that provide students with the support they need. Many of these schools have flexible class schedules that can work around shift schedules, full-time jobs, or family obligations.

All of these students depend on EASE vouchers to help pay tuition. As a business student, I can tell you this is a smart investment from the State of Florida. It helps educate and prepare Florida’s future workforce for the jobs we need to fill. It is much cheaper for the state to support students through school choice vouchers than to expand public schools to accommodate all degree-seeking students.

Tell your legislator that you support good EASE. It is critical that Florida continue to fund the EASE voucher so students like me can get an education and contribute to our economy.

Jacob Cooper graduated from Warner University in April 2021 with a Bachelor of Commerce and Management. He is pursuing his Masters in Business Administration at Warner University while working full time. He lives in Lake Wales.