Education Commission of the States researched voucher policies and programs in all states to provide this comprehensive resource. Click on the questions below for 50-state comparisons showing how all states approach specific voucher policies. View a specific state’s approach by going to the state profiles page. Note that some states have more than one voucher program.
Background and Takeaways
School voucher programs are a type of school choice. These state-funded programs – often called scholarship programs – allow students to use public monies to attend a private school. The state provides a set amount of money, typically based on the state’s per-pupil amount, for private school tuition. There are currently 25 voucher programs in 14 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.).
Below are the different kinds of voucher program eligibility requirements and how many states have them.
- Students with a disability: Eleven programs in nine states. Generally, these programs require eligible students to have an identified disability and an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
- Income eligible households: Four states plus D.C. States typically require eligible students to have a household income within a certain percentage of the federal poverty guidelines.
- Geography: Four programs in three states. Students residing within certain cities are eligible for these programs. Three of the four programs also require students to have an IEP or meet income eligibility requirements.
- Low-performing schools: One state. Students’ resident school or district must be below certain performance thresholds before they are eligible for the voucher program.
- Combination: Two states. In these programs, states require eligible students meet two or more of the following eligibility requirements: IEP, income-eligible household or assigned to a low-performing school.
- Town tuitioning: Two states. School districts without a public school provide students residing in the district with funds to either attend a private school or a public school in another district.
Accountability for private schools receiving public dollars is often an area of interest for policymakers. Of the 14 states plus D.C. with voucher programs, nine states plus D.C. have programs requiring participating students to take either a state assessment or a nationally-standardized assessment. Five states’ programs do not require an assessment, although participating schools may be required to provide parents with a periodic academic progress report of some kind. Four states, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, have different testing requirements for their multiple voucher programs.
- Does the state have a voucher program?
- Program name
- Student eligibility requirements
- Previous public school attendance requirement
- Enrollment limits
- Voucher amount
- Testing requirement
- Private school participation standards
- All data points for all states
Micah Ann Wixom
PUBLISHED: March 6, 2017
RESOURCE TYPE: 50-State Comparison