Education choice is an important topic for a lot of American families. And over the last few years there has been a debate about putting more educational choice (and financial support) back in the hands of parents versus balancing the needs for adequate funding of public schools.
This has manifested it self in School Education Voucher (or Scholarship) Programs which allow parents to select private, religious or home schooling over public schooling; and receive state funding to pay or offset part of all of that tuition.
Education support vouchers have been around for a long time but were usually targeted to students who come from low-income families or had special needs. However this has now expanded to a broader range of families at increasing levels of income and becoming more of a political issue as special interests on each side get more involved.
Because the funding for vouchers and public schools generally all comes from the same “education budget pool,” detractors of the expanded voucher programs say these actions divert already limited resources away from public schools (defunding) and result in inconsistent levels of education.
Private School Voucher Programs and Payments by State
As shown in the table below several states now offer private school voucher programs. I will continue to update table with additional voucher programs, but wanted to provide a sampling of voucher programs. You can find your state’s specific program via the links below or searching online.
Overall there are 23 school voucher programs nationwide. Each have different eligibility criteria, income requirements and maximum limits, but there is little doubt the school voucher trend is growing across the country.
|STATE||PROGRAM AND DETAILS||MAX or AVERAGE FUNDING PER STUDENT|
|Arizona||Empowerment Scholarship Account||$7,000|
|Florida||Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (FTC) and Family Empowerment Scholarship Program (FES)||$7,408 (FTC)|
|Georgia||Georgia Special Scholarship Award and Georgia Private School Tax Credit||$11,903 (GDOE)|
|Indiana||Choice Scholarship Program||Varies by school, ~$6,000|
|North Carolina||Opportunity Scholarship Program||$4,200 (PNC)|
|Ohio||Educational Choice Scholarship Program||$5500 to $7500|
|Wisconsin||Parental Choice Program||varies by school|
How are payments made?
Parents under these voucher or scholarship programs are generally made to the parent who apply via an approved scholarship funding organization (SFO). Another way state’s make payments are via tax credits that parents can claim via their annual tax filing.
These SFO’s are responsible for determining and distributing funding to private school, who can then use the fund to determine while eligible school they want their child to attend.
Payments are audited across all parties to ensure they are used for educational needs.
School Vouchers vs Scholarship Tax Credits vs Education Savings Programs
School vouchers are one of three approaches to private school choice. Several states also have tax credits and or Education Assistance accounts. See more at NCSL.