Enrollment Characteristics for Private School Choice Programs

We’re often asked about the family incomes of children attending private schools thanks to choice programs like tax-credit scholarships, vouchers, or Education Savings Accounts at the state level. And opponents to these programs like to spread disinformation and say that wealthy children are the only ones who can use them.

Here are the facts: 70% of the children in private school choice programs are in means-tested programs (365,450 of the 518,809 students). The remainder are in programs with different eligibility requirements like special needs (73,408), “failing schools” assignment (a proxy for lower-income families), or bullying.

Only 14% of students (73,196) are in two programs that aren’t means-tested in Georgia and Arizona. In Georgia, 64% of families receiving scholarships are below 250% of federal poverty ($65,500 for a family of four). 

Essentially: Based upon the available data from programs listing income distributions for participating families, it’s reasonable to see that approximately 90% the 445,401 students participating in non-special-needs private school choice programs come from lower income and working class families. And where data is available, we see that these participating students are mostly children of color. 


Florida Tax Credit Scholarship

99,453 students

Minority enrollment: 68%

Single-parent household: 54%

Average household income: $25,749 


Georgia tax credit program:
13,895 students

Under 125% FPL: 34.6% of scholarships, 35.1% of money (avg. scholarship: $4,704)

125%-250% FPL: 30.1% of scholarships, 28.2% of money (avg. scholarship: $4,329)

250%-400% FPL: 17.3% of scholarships, 18.6% of money (avg. scholarship: $4,968)

Over 400% FPL: 18% of scholarships, 18.1% of money (avg. scholarship: $4,646)

82% of the scholarships and 82% of the money from the program went to families that would have qualified for Obamacare subsidies.


Indiana Choice Program

36,290 students

Minority enrollment: 41%

Qualify for Free and Reduced Priced Lunch: 69.5%

<$25,000 household income: 17.9%

<$50,000 household income: 49.5%

<$75,000 household income: 78.1%

<$100,000 household income: 94.37%


North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program

12,183 students

Minority enrollment: 52.5%

Median household income for new OSP recipients (adjusted for inflation): $16,213 and $15,000 for renewal recipients.


Iowa School Tuition Organization Tax Credit:

10,791 students

Average household income: $43,897

<$20,000 household income: 17.3%

<40,000 household income: 45.2%

<$60,000 household income: 71.7%

<$80,000 household income: 92.7%


Louisiana Scholarship Program

7,362 students

Minority enrollment: 88%

Eligibility: 250% of FPL ($75,000 for a family of four)

Parental Satisfaction: 93.3%


Illinois Invest in Kids Act:

7,178 students

Minority enrollment: 56.7%

Average household income: $35,516


Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program: 

1,645 students

Minority enrollment: 91%

Average household income: $23,285

Parental satisfaction: 97%