The 2020 School Choice Guidebook is here! 

The 2020 School Choice Guidebook is here!

We’re excited to announce that the 2019-20 school year saw significant growth in the number of students enrolled in voucher, ESA, and tax credit scholarship programs across the country.

During the 2019-20 school year, there were over 576,000 students enrolled in private choice programs in 26 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. This was 11% enrollment growth from the 2018-19 school year.

Of course, it’s hard to know exactly how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting private choice enrollment for the 2020-21 school year; but for now, we’d like to acknowledge those programs that saw the greatest increases in student participation for the 2019-20 school year, with some highlights discussed below.

State Program Program Type 2019-20 Enrollment Enrollment Growth from the Previous School Year
Arizona Corporate Tax Credit Tax Credit Scholarship 28,972* +4,260
Florida Family Empowerment Voucher 17,802 +17,802
Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit Tax Credit Scholarship 16,040 +2,145
North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Voucher 12,283 +2,632
Ohio Educational Choice Voucher 30,140 +6,802
Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Tax Credit Scholarship 45,882* +8,157
Wisconsin Wisconsin Parental Choice Voucher 9,764 +2,624

*2018-19 enrollment data because 2019-20 is not yet reported

We were amazed to see that the Florida Family Empowerment program came so close to meeting its 18,000 student enrollment cap in 2019-20, the program’s first year of operation. In response to the popularity of this program, Florida legislators raised the enrollment cap to 46,000 students; Florida is now reporting that over 32,000 students are enrolled in the program for the 2020-21 school year, all of whom meet the lower-income requirements for participating families.

Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that lag in tax credit scholarship enrollment reporting, so the data above uses 2018-19 enrollment data (not 2019-20). Nevertheless, we want to highlight that the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program saw an increase of $43,488,218 in donations from the 2017-18 school year, making the total donated to the program $112 million. With that increase, the program was able to provide scholarships for over 8,000 additional low-income students. This donation increase was the direct result of legislative action – in 2018, the Pennsylvania legislature increased the donation cap by $25 million. Even with that cap increase, $180 million in corporate donation requests were unrealized because of the donation cap. This is disheartening given that over 26,000 student applicants were denied EITC scholarships because there wasn’t enough funding.

Finally, the impressive growth in the Ohio Educational Choice program for the 2019-20 school year is largely due to two factors: a legislative change that made more students eligible to participate in the program and impressive parent empowerment work from School Choice Ohio, a local nonprofit organization that provides parents with information about the educational options available to their children.

One commonality across these three states – Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio – is a strong nonprofit organization on the ground that does both legislative advocacy and parent empowerment work. Creating strong educational ecosystems takes coordinated work at all levels – starting with parents and going all the way to governors. In the midst of so much uncertainty about the future of our education system, we’re happy to see that some of these ecosystems seem to be working for the best interest of kids.