Types of Private School Choice Programs

School choice means different things to different people. To AFC, school choice means allowing parents to select the best schools for their children—public or private. School choice includes school vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs, education savings account programs, public charter schools, virtual charter schools, and meaningful public school choice. The American Federation for Children focuses its time and resources on supporting state-level efforts to provide low-income and middle class families with access to great schools through private school choice.

Student Eligibility—Requirements for Participation:

V

Voucher Programs

School voucher programs allow education dollars to “follow the child” to the private school of their parents’ choice.

Voucher programs allow education dollars to "follow the child," enabling parents to select private schools and receive state-funded scholarships to pay tuition. These scholarships are usually targeted to students who come from low-income families, have special needs or currently attend a failing public school. Research has demonstrated that vouchers increase student achievement, boost graduation rates, and help public schools improve. They also lead to high parental satisfaction rates.

State Program Year Enacted Students Annual Funding
Arkansas Succeed Scholarship Program 2015 167 $1,030,115
District of Columbia D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program 2004 1,653 $18,000,000
Florida John M. McKay Scholarship for Students With Disabilities Program 1999 31,044 $220,435,516
Georgia Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program 2007 4,442 $29,025,673
Indiana Choice Scholarship Program 2011 35,458 $153,967,952
Louisiana Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program 2008 6,909 $42,500,000
Louisiana School Choice Program For Certain Students With Exceptionalities 2010 391 $1,000,000
Maryland Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program 2016 2,646 $6,086,897
Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship 2012 212 $1,040,712
Mississippi Mississippi Speech-Language Therapy Scholarship For Students With Speech-Language Impairments Program 2013 0 $0
North Carolina Children With Disabilities Scholarship Grants 2013 1,251 $8,102,780
North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program 2013 7,371 $28,058,656
Ohio Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program 1995 7,688 $37,512,928
Ohio Autism Scholarship Program 2003 3,666 $81,247,167
Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program 2005 22,637 $102,688,259
Ohio Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program 2011 5,604 $48,184,899
Ohio Income-Based Scholarship Program 2013 9,512 $31,021,124
Oklahoma Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship For Students With Disabilities Program 2010 645 $3,740,187
Puerto Rico Free Selection of Schools 2018 0 $1
Utah Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship 2005 978 $5,042,836
Wisconsin Milwaukee Parental Choice Program 1990 28,702 $201,900,000
Wisconsin Racine Parental Choice Program 2011 3,007 $18,000,000
Wisconsin Wisconsin Parental Choice Program 2013 4,540 $22,300,000
Wisconsin Special Needs Scholarship Program 2015 246 $2,578,800
State Program Administrative Financial Academic
Arkansas Succeed Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Proof of Financial Viability Standardized Assessments
District of Columbia D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Proof of Financial Viability Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results Independent Evaluation
Florida John M. McKay Scholarship for Students With Disabilities Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Proof of Financial Viability
Georgia Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Proof of Financial Viability
Indiana Choice Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results Independent Evaluation
Louisiana Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results Independent Evaluation
Louisiana School Choice Program For Certain Students With Exceptionalities Health and Safety Nondiscrimination
Maryland Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting
Mississippi Mississippi Speech-Language Therapy Scholarship For Students With Speech-Language Impairments Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting
North Carolina Children With Disabilities Scholarship Grants Health and Safety Nondiscrimination
North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results Independent Evaluation
Ohio Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Standardized Assessments
Ohio Autism Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting
Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results Independent Evaluation
Ohio Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Standardized Assessments
Ohio Income-Based Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
Oklahoma Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship For Students With Disabilities Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Proof of Financial Viability
Puerto Rico Free Selection of Schools
Utah Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Proof of Financial Viability Standardized Assessments
Wisconsin Milwaukee Parental Choice Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Proof of Financial Viability Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results Independent Evaluation
Wisconsin Racine Parental Choice Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Proof of Financial Viability Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
Wisconsin Wisconsin Parental Choice Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Proof of Financial Viability Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
Wisconsin Special Needs Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Annual Financial Reporting Proof of Financial Viability
ESA

Education Savings Account Programs

Education savings account programs give parents the power to use their children's state education dollars for a variety of educational purposes.

Education savings account programs create personal accounts that store a child’s state education dollars. With ESAs, parents can use education dollars to pay for school tuition and fees, textbooks, tutoring and special therapies and other approved expenses, so a child's education is truly customizable. Participating families are able to choose the best education for their children through multiple providers.

State Program SGO Administrative and Financial School Administrative and Financial Academic
Arizona Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program Nondiscrimination Annual Audits (Random Sample)
Florida The Gardiner Scholarship Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Standardized Assessments
Mississippi Equal Opportunity For Students With Special Needs Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks
Nevada Nevada Educational Savings Account Program Health and Safety Proof of Financial Viability Annual Audits (Random Sample)
North Carolina North Carolina Personal Education Savings Account Program Health and Safety Annual Audits (Random Sample)
Tennessee Individualized Education Account Program Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks Standardized Assessments
STC

Scholarship Tax Credit Programs

Scholarship tax credit programs give families greater access to high-quality private schools by providing incentives for businesses and individuals to get involved in education reform.

Scholarship tax credit programs create new pools of funding so that children can receive scholarships to attend the private schools of their parents’ choice. Corporations and individuals make private donations to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships to eligible children.  In return, the corporations and individuals receive a state income tax credit. There are 21 scholarship tax credit programs operating across the country, and research has demonstrated that these programs are positive for student achievement and save money for state and local governments.

State Program Year Enacted Students Annual Funding
Alabama Tax Credits For Contributions To Scholarship Granting Organizations 2013 4,181 $29,699,374
Arizona Individual School Tuition Organization Tax Credit 1997 52,554 $100,959,059
Arizona Low Income Corporate School Tuition Organization Tax Credit 2006 20,076 $51,597,804
Arizona Lexie’s Law 2009 936 $5,000,000
Florida Florida Tax Credit Scholarship 2001 108,098 $631,100,000
Georgia Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit 2008 13,243 $53,438,854
Illinois Invest in Kids Program 2017 0 $42,180,419
Illinois Invest in Kids Scholarship Tax Credit Program 2017 0 $42,180,417
Indiana Corporate and Individual Scholarship Tax Credit Program 2009 499,744 $24,957,592
Iowa Individual and Corporate School Tuition Organization Tax Credit 2006 10,752 $18,461,866
Kansas Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program 2014 281 $4,159,881
Louisiana Louisiana Tuition Donation Rebate Program 2012 2,018 $7,005,905
Montana Tax Credits For Contribution To Student Scholarship Organizations 2015 39 $29,950
Nevada Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program 2015 2,083 $26,050,000
New Hampshire Education Tax Credit Program 2012 332 $713,091
Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarships 2011 2,435 $4,611,511
Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit 2001 34,433 $62,100,000
Pennsylvania Educational Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit 2012 14,556 $44,213,700
Rhode Island Rhode Island Corporate Scholarship Tax Credit 2006 433 $1,588,537
South Carolina Educational Credit For Exceptional Needs Children 2013 1,951 $10,000,000
South Dakota The Partners in Education Tax Credit Program 2016 480 $325,000
Virginia Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits 2012 3,258 $10,183,623
State Program Administrative Financial Academic
Alabama Tax Credits For Contributions To Scholarship Granting Organizations Background Checks (SGO) Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks (School) Proof of Financial Viability Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
Arizona Individual School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination
Arizona Low Income Corporate School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination
Arizona Lexie’s Law Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination
Florida Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Background Checks (SGO) Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks (School) Proof of Financial Viability Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
Georgia Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination
Illinois Invest in Kids Program Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks (School) Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results Independent Evaluation
Illinois Invest in Kids Scholarship Tax Credit Program
Indiana Corporate and Individual Scholarship Tax Credit Program Background Checks (SGO) Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
Iowa Individual and Corporate School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Standardized Assessments
Kansas Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting
Louisiana Louisiana Tuition Donation Rebate Program Background Checks (SGO) Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks (School) Proof of Financial Viability Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
Montana Tax Credits For Contribution To Student Scholarship Organizations Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Health and Safety Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
Nevada Nevada Educational Choice Scholarship Program Background Checks (SGO) Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
New Hampshire Education Tax Credit Program Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting
Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarships Background Checks (SGO) Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination
Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks (School)
Pennsylvania Educational Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Background Checks (SGO) Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination
Rhode Island Rhode Island Corporate Scholarship Tax Credit Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Background Checks (School)
South Carolina Educational Credit For Exceptional Needs Children Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Standardized Assessments
South Dakota The Partners in Education Tax Credit Program Background Checks (SGO) Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Standardized Assessments
Virginia Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Donation and Scholarship Details Reporting Annual Financial Reporting Health and Safety Nondiscrimination Standardized Assessments Public Reporting of Results
ITT

Individual Tuition Tax Credits

Individual tuition tax credits give parents a state income tax credit for their child’s approved educational expenses.

Individual tuition tax credits of significant size can be used for a child’s educational expenses, including private school tuition, and help families choose educational tools they otherwise could not afford. “Of significant size,” or approximately $3,000 to $6,000 is key to ensuring that the credit is large enough of affect a family’s decision and ability to cover the costs of private school.

Student Eligibility—Requirements for Participation:

Special Needs Qualifications

Special needs scholarship programs are private school choice programs designed specifically for students with special needs. These programs allow students to attend a public or private school that can address their specific learning needs.

Twenty of the nation’s fifty private school choice programs are specifically designed to serve students with special needs.

Means-Tested Qualifications

Means-tested programs are designed to empower students from low-income families to attend the school of their parents’ choice. These programs provide access to quality educational options that low-income families would not otherwise have.

Means-preferenced programs give preference to students from low-income families by serving them first, while also allowing students from working class and middle income families to participate.

Twenty-seven of the nation’s fifty private school choice programs are either means-tested or means-preferenced.

Universal Qualifications

Universal eligibility programs allow every child, with no restrictions such as income or prior public school attendance, the opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend the school of his or her parent’s choice. Two of the nation’s fifty private school choice programs have universal eligibility. One additional program is near universal – students from families of all income levels are eligible unless they already attend private school.

Failing Schools Qualifications

Failing schools programs help students stuck in or assigned to persistently failing public schools. These programs allow students to attend the private or public school of their parents’ choice, providing immediate educational options to students. Eight of the nation’s fifty private school choice programs are failing schools programs.

Get Involved

Take action to support school choice in your state and across the country.