Vouchers & Tax Credits

Click on a state name below to find information about publicly-funded vouchers (often referred to as scholarships), tax credits, and tax deductions, including short program summaries, links to government publications, and online statutes.

Arizona | Colorado (Douglas Co.) | Florida | Georgia | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa
Louisiana | Maine | Minnesota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Pennsylvania
Rhode Island | Utah | Vermont | Wisconsin | Washington, D.C.

Check here for the latest on vouchers and tax credits

Education Policy Center Resources:


Arizona

“Lexie’s Law” (special needs and foster care corporate tax credits)
“Lexie’s Law” was created in response to the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down two voucher programs; one that served students with disabilities and one that served students in foster care. The new law is named after Lexie Weck, a seven-year-old girl with autism, cerebral palsy and mild mental retardation who relied on the voucher program to attend a private school specializing in educating autistic children. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on May 29, 2009.

The law allows corporations, including insurance companies, to receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations to approved Scholarship Tuition Organizations (STOs). There is a $5 million dollar cap statewide on contributions. Students who are in foster care and students with disabilities (including physical and mental impairments that require “504 plans”) are eligible to apply for scholarships to attend participating non-public schools.  As of 2009-2010, 112 students received scholarships through the program.

Program Information

Arizona Department of Revenue – online applications

Statute Information

Arizona Revised Statutes §§20-224.06 and 43-1184

Arizona Corporate Income Tax Credit
Corporate tax credits were enacted in March 2006 after the Arizona legislature passed Senate Bill 1499 and Governor Janet Napolitano allowed the bill to become law without her signature. The law was scheduled to end in June 2011 but the sunset date was removed by House Bill 2288 in 2009.

The tax credit went into effect in June 2006, allowing corporations to receive a dollar-for-dollar credit when they donate funds to approved School Tuition Organizations (STO). In 2009, House Bill 2288 amended the law to allow insurance companies to receive tax credits against premium tax liabilities for donations to STOs. If the credit exceeds the taxes owed by the corporation or insurance company, the credit may be carried over for as many as five years. The statewide cap on donations is $20.74 million in 2011, with a 20 percent increase in the cap each subsequent year. Each STO must allot at least 90 percent of the corporate donations for educational scholarships to be used at a participating nonpublic school.

Each nonpublic school that receives scholarship funds must annually administer a nationally standardized norm-referenced test and teaching staff must be fingerprinted.

Families qualify for scholarships if the household income does not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty line. The student must also have attended a public school in the prior school year, or have received a scholarship from the STO to attend a qualified school, or be entering kindergarten. Scholarships are capped at $4,700 for grades kindergarten through eight and $5,900 for grades nine through 12 in 2010-2011, and will increase by $100 each subsequent year.

In 2009-2010, 3,652 students received scholarships for use at one of 169 participating schools via corporate donations.

Bill Information

Arizona Department of Revenue – online applications

House Bill 2288
House Bill 2288 Fact Sheet

Senate Bill 1499
Senate Bill 1499 Fact Sheet

Two Individual Education Tax Credit Programs
The tax credits were signed into law in 1997. Residents of Arizona who donate to charitable organizations or School Tuition Organizations (STOs) that provide scholarships to private or religious schools receive a nonrefundable tax credit of up to $500 for individuals and $1000 for married couples. In 2009-2010, 27,582 scholarships were awarded for use at one of 370 participating schools because of donations made through this tax credit.  On April 4, 2011, the U. S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this tax credit program in a 5-4 ruling in the case Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn.

Additionally, residents of Arizona who pay fees for, or donate to public school extracurricular activities or character education programs, receive a nonrefundable tax credit of up to $200 for individuals and up to $400 for married couples. The amount of credit is equal to the amount paid or donated and may be carried forward for no more than five consecutive years.

In 2009, House Bill 2287 allowed employees to request that employers reduce the amount of tax withheld and instead donate that portion, not to exceed the amount of tax credit available to the employee, to a public school, qualifying charitable organization, or qualifying STO of the employee’s choice.

Program Information

School Tax Credits for Individuals

Statutes

§ 43-1089 Tax credit for a contribution to a school tuition organization
§ 43-1089.01 Tax credit for a contribution to a public school

Bill Information

House Bill 2287

Displaced Pupils Choice Grants (struck down by the Arizona Supreme Court)
In June 2006, the Arizona legislature passed Senate Bill 1164 and Governor Janet Napolitano allowed this program to become law without her signature. The Arizona Supreme Court struck down the program in a March 25, 2009 ruling, stating that the program violates a portion of the Arizona Constitution’s Blaine Amendment which prohibits “appropriations of public money made in aid of any church, or private or sectarian school, or any public service corporation.”

Bill Information

Senate Bill 1164–Displaced Pupils Choice Grants
Senate Bill 1164 Fact Sheet

The Arizona Scholarships for Pupils with Disabilities Program (struck down by the Arizona Supreme Court)
In June 2006, the Arizona legislature passed House Bill 2676 and Governor Janet Napolitano allowed this program to become law without her signature. The Arizona Supreme Court struck down the program in a March 25, 2009 ruling, stating that the program violates a portion of the Arizona Constitution’s Blaine Amendment which prohibits “appropriations of public money made in aid of any church, or private or sectarian school, or any public service corporation.”

Bill Information

House Bill 2676–Scholarships for Pupils with Disabilities Program
House Bill 2676 Fact Sheet


Colorado (Douglas County School District)

See Douglas County voucher page

Florida

John M. McKay Scholarships (limited public funding of private schools)
McKay Scholarships became available in 2000 for families with disabled students in any Florida public school where the parent was dissatisfied with student progress on individual performance goals. Senate Bill 1180, passed and signed in 2001, significantly expanded the program.

The McKay Scholarship recipients must have attended a public school in the previous school year and have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Students are given the option of attending another Florida public school or an eligible private school. Each scholarship is worth the amount the state spends on that particular student within the public school system or the amount of tuition at the school, whichever is less.

In 2007-2008, scholarship payments averaged $7,295 per student. In 2010-2011, 985 nonpublic schools participated in the program, educating 21,054 students.

The McKay Scholarship program is distinct from the Opportunity Scholarship Program and is not currently affected by the Florida Supreme Court ruling that the Opportunity Scholarship Program is unconstitutional.

Program Information

Florida Department of Education Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice

Statute and Bill Information

§ 1002.39 John M. McKay Scholarships to public or private school of choice for students with disabilities
Senate Bill 1180

Corporate Tax Credit (corporate and business donations to scholarship-funding organizations)
This program was signed into law in 2001. The tax credits are designed to encourage private, voluntary corporate contributions to nonprofit scholarship-funding organizations in order to give low-income families more choice as to where they send their children.

A business may not contribute more than $5 million to any single organization and the credit may not exceed 75% of the tax due for the taxable year. The initial $50 million cap on the total credit granted throughout the state has continued to rise and is $175 million in 2011. At least 5% of the total statewide amount authorized for the tax credit is reserved for small business contributions.

Students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches are qualified to receive a scholarship of as much as $4,106. At least 75% of scholarship funding given for use in a nonpublic school must be used for tuition. The remainder may be used for textbooks or transportation. Scholarships of as much as $500 may be given for use in a public school for transportation expenses to a school outside of the district in which the student resides.

In 2010-2011, 32,946 students received scholarships to attend any of the 1,092 participating nonpublic schools through the corporate tax credit donations. In 2007-2008, the average scholarship amount was $3,417.

Program Information

Florida Department of Education Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice

Statute

§ 1002.395 Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Opportunity Scholarship Program (Struck down by FL Supreme Court)
In January 2006, the Florida Supreme Court in a 5-2 ruling struck down the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, ruling that it violates the state Constitution’s “uniformity” clause. The provision requires Florida to provide “a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools.” The Court ruled that the Opportunity Scholarship Program diverts funds from public schools to non-public schools, which lack the same uniform standards in curriculum and teacher credentials.

Click here to read the press release from the Institute for Justice, which helped to defend the program in court.

Georgia

Special Needs Scholarship (voucher program)
The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship was enacted into law in May 2007. The program allows Georgia public school students with disabilities the option to attend an out-of-district public school or non-public (private) school. In 2007-2008, more than $5.6 million was allocated to fund the program.

To be eligible for the scholarship, the student’s parents must have resided in Georgia for at least one year and the student must have been enrolled in a Georgia public school in the previous year and have a current Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The scholarship will be worth the equivalent of the cost of educating the student in public school or the nonpublic school’s tuition, whichever is less. In 2010-2011, 2,550 students received scholarships to attend one of 190 participating nonpublic schools.

Program Information

Georgia Department of Education

Bill Information

Senate Bill 10

Individual and Corporate Tax Credit (for donations to Student Scholarship Organizations)
Governor Sunny Perdue signed house bill 1133 into law in May 2008. The bill allows individuals and corporations to receive tax credits for donations made to non-profit Student Scholarship Organizations that provide scholarships for Georgia students to attend participating non-public schools. Total tax credits available are capped at $50 million per year.

Tax credits can be claimed by individuals for as much as $1,000 and by couples for as much as $2,500. Corporations may claim the dollar-for-dollar amount of their donation, up to 75 percent of their total tax liability.

All students, regardless of income level, who are enrolled in a Georgia public school or who will enter kindergarten are eligible to apply to a Student Scholarship Organization for tuition assistance at a participating non-public school. Student Scholarship Organizations must use at least 90 percent of their revenues to fund scholarships.  In 2010-2011 3,000 students received scholarships through donations to Student Scholarship Organizations.

Program Information

Georgia Department of Education

Bill Information

House Bill 1133 (amending Georgia Code 20-2A and 48-7-29.13)

Illinois

Individual Tax Credit (for personal education-related expenses)
This nonrefundable tax credit was signed into law in 1999. It allows a credit of up to 25% of education-related expenses, such as tuition, books, and lab fees that exceed $250 for full-time K-12 students. The maximum amount of credit an individual may claim is $500, for educational expenses in public, private secular, religious, or home school.

Program Information

Education Expense Credit

Statute

§ 35 ILCS 5/201(m) Education Expense Credit

Indiana

School Scholarship Tax Credit
Governor Mitch Daniels signed House Bill 1001 into law on June 30, 2009. The tax credit, created within the state budget bill, allows individuals, corporations, and insurance companies to receive a 50 percent tax credit for donations made to non-profit scholarship granting organizations. Tax credits are capped at a state-wide total of $2.5 million per year.

Indiana students whose family income is no more than 200 percent of the free and reduced lunch income level are eligible to apply for scholarships to attend participating non-public or public schools. Students must be entering kindergarten, or have been enrolled in a public school in the previous year, or have received a scholarship from the scholarship granting organization in the previous year to qualify for a scholarship.

Approximately 219 students have been awarded scholarships in the 2010-2011 school year.

Statute Information

Indiana Code § 6-3.1-30.5

Iowa

Opportunity Scholarships (Individual and Corporate Tax Credits for Donations to School Tuition Organizations)
On June 2, 2006, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack signed into law the School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Act (Senate File 2409). The law allows Iowa taxpayers to receive a tax credit of 65 percent of contributions of cash or non-cash items such as stocks to a School Tuition Organization (STO). In 2009, Senate Amendment 3302 added a tax credit for corporations that donate to STOs.

STOs distribute scholarships to Iowa residents whose household income is at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Students may use the scholarships at any participating nonpublic school in the state but the scholarships may not exceed the school’s tuition. STOs must be nonprofit (501(c)(3)) organizations that distribute at least 90 percent of their annual revenue in scholarship payments.

STOs began to distribute scholarships for use in fall 2006. The amount of tax credits dispersed statewide was capped at $2.5 million in 2006 and $5 million in 2007. In 2007, the statewide cap was raised (by Senate File 601, § 111) to $7.5 million. Corporate donations may only constitute 25 percent of the statewide total credits allowed.

In 2010-2011, 10,208 students received scholarships for use at 157 participating nonpublic schools.

Statute

§ 422.11S School Tuition Organization Tax Credit

Amendment Information

Senate Amendment 3302 (amends § 422.33 with new subsection 27)

Individual Tax Credit
The credit is equal to 25% of the first $1,000 spent for each dependent’s elementary or secondary school acceptable educational expenses, regardless of income. Expenses may include non-religious tuition, textbooks, and/or extracurricular activities.

Statute

§ 422.12(2) Deductions from Computed Tax

Louisiana

School Choice Pilot Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities

On June 24, 2010, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law House Bill 216 which created this pilot voucher program for students with special needs.

Students are eligible to receive an educational certificate (or voucher) toward educational expenses if they are on an IEP or similar plan, reside in an eligible parish, are eligible to attend public school, are entering kindergarten through eighth grade, and are not considered gifted and talented. The educational certificate is worth 50 percent of what the state would have spent for the student in a public school, or the cost of private school tuition, whichever is less.

Participating schools must have served special education students for at least two years and be approved by the State Board of Education for one school year prior to serving students in the program. Participating schools are not required to accept every eligible student who applies, but the schools may not administer an entrance exam to students prior to admission.

Statute

L. R. S. § 17:4031 (Act No. 515)

Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence (voucher program)
Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 1347 into law on June 26, 2008. The bill provides low-income families in failing public schools the opportunity to receive scholarships to attend participating nonpublic schools.

A student is eligible for the scholarships if his family income is no more than 250 percent of the federal poverty guideline and is either entering kindergarten or attends an “academically unacceptable” school in an eligible school district.

Only students in kindergarten through grade three will be eligible to receive a scholarship for the 2008-2009 school year. A grade level will be added to the program each year until 2017 when the program will finally serve students in grades K-12.

Scholarships are worth 90 percent of what the school district would have spent on the student in his local public school or the amount of the nonpublic school tuition and fees, whichever is less.  Nine million dollars is allocated to fund the program.  In 2010-2011, 1,697 students received an educational certificate to attend one of 33 participating nonpublic schools.

Program Information

Louisiana Department of Education

Statute

L. R. S. § 17:4011-4025 (Act No. 509)

Personal Tax Deduction
In March 2008, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law Senate Bill 5, giving all Louisiana parents a tax deduction for qualifying educational expenses, beginning with the 2009 tax return.

Qualifying expenses include private school tuition and expenses at both public and non-public schools such as school uniforms, textbooks, and supplies required by the school. Homeschooling parents may also claim a deduction for textbooks and curricula purchased for the home school. All deductions are equal to 50 percent of the total amount of expenses incurred per child, or $5,000 per child, whichever is less. The amount of the deduction cannot exceed the amount of the taxpayer’s total taxable income.

Statute Information

§ 47:297.10-12 (Act No. 8, 2nd Ex. Session)

Maine

Limited public funding of private schools
Families who reside in districts without a public school may send their children to a public school in a neighboring school district or receive reimbursement from the town for the cost of tuition to send their children to approved non-religious private schools within or outside of the state. There are 171 school systems in Maine that do not have their own high school. The town is partially or fully reimbursed for the expense by the state. This law has been in effect since 1873. Religious school tuition was funded by local and state government until the law was changed in 1983. Public funds may still be used to pay for busing, textbooks, and special educational services at religious schools.

If a private school enrolls 60 percent or more publicly funded students, the school must participate in the Statewide Assessment Program, which includes administration of the Maine Educational Assessment test.

The maximum allowable reimbursement is $6,305. In 2005-2006, approximately 6,700 students (excluding special education students) received public funds to attend a school outside of their school system.

Statutes

§ Title 20-A 117.2951 Approval of public funds to go to private schools for tuition purposes
§ Title 20-A 219.5804 Tuition charged for elementary school students
§ Title 20-A 219.5806 Tuition charged for secondary school students

Minnesota

Individual Tax Credit
This tax credit was instituted in 1997 and expanded in 1999 and 2005 to increase the maximum income level for eligibility. Since 2005, families are eligible for the credit if they have one or two qualifying children and an income no greater than $37,500. With each additional child, the maximum household income allowed to obtain the credit increases by $2,000. Eligible families receive a tax credit for 75% of educational expenses, excluding tuition, receiving as much as $1,000 per student with a $2,000 family maximum. The credit may be claimed by families that do not pay income tax.

Qualifying expenses: Tutoring by a qualified instructor, transportation fees, academic books and materials for non-religious school classes, musical instrument rental fees, music lessons by a qualified instructor, computer hardware and educational software as much as $200, after school enrichment programs, and summer camp tuition focused on academics or the fine arts. The education deduction may be used for expenses exceeding the credit.

Program Information

Minnesota Department of Education
Minnesota Department of Revenue

Statute

§ 290.0674 Education tax credit

Individual Tax Deduction
The tax deduction was passed in 1995 but the maximum deduction amount was increased and the list of deductible expenses was expanded in 1997. Currently, all taxpayers with students in K-12 public, private, or homeschool may receive a tax deduction for educational expenses regardless of income. A deduction of as much as $1,625 is available for students in grades K-6 and as much as $2,500 is allowed for students in grades 7-12.

Qualifying expenses: Private school tuition, tutoring by a qualified instructor, transportation fees, academic books and materials for non-religious school classes, musical instrument rental fees, music lessons by a qualified instructor, computer hardware and educational software as much as $200, after-school enrichment programs, and summer camp tuition focused on academics or the fine arts.

Program Information

Minnesota Department of Education
Minnesota Department of Revenue

Statute

§ 290.01 (Listed under Subd. 19b (3)) Education tax deduction

Ohio

Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program (voucher program)
The Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program began in 1996 and provided assistance for students in grades K-3. In the 2002-2003 school year, the program expanded to include students in grades K-8. The 2003 state budget included an expansion of the voucher program to include ninth- and tenth-graders. In 2005, the program expanded once more through House Bill 66 to allow eleventh- and twelfth-graders to continue receiving scholarships.

Cleveland Scholarship Program

Students in grades K-8 who reside within the boundaries of the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD) are eligible to attend another participating public school in any surrounding district or a qualified nonpublic secular or religious school located within the district. As long as the student remains enrolled in a participating school and lives in the CMSD, the student will be eligible for scholarships through twelfth grade. Depending on a family’s income, the state’s contribution is either 75% or 90% of tuition, though the scholarship cannot exceed $3,450 (raised in HB 66 from $2,700). Priority is given to low-income students. Transportation is provided by the CMSD, assisted by the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program. In the 2010-2011 school year, 5,264 students received scholarships for use at one of 36 participating nonpublic schools. In 2007-2008, the average scholarship amount was $2,894.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in February 2002 as to the constitutionality of the Cleveland voucher program. On June 27, 2002 the court ruled 5-4 that the program is constitutional and will be allowed to continue.

Cleveland Tutoring Program

Students who currently attend Cleveland Municipal Schools are eligible to receive tutoring services in reading, writing, math, science, and citizenship. Emphasis is placed on improvement of reading skills and passing the fourth grade proficiency examination. Families at or below poverty level are eligible for state assistance of as much as 90% of the $20 fee for one hour of tutoring. Families above the poverty level are eligible for as much as 75% of the fee. Students are eligible for as many as 18 hours of tutoring per year. In the 2001-2002 school year 2,311 students participated in the program.

Program Information

Ohio Department of Education–Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program

Statutes and Bill Information

Statutes § 3313.974-3313.979 govern the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program
§ 3313.974 Definitions
§ 3313.975 Pilot project scholarship program established
§ 3313.976 Eligibility of private schools and public schools in adjacent districts; tutorial assistance
§ 3313.977 Admission of students to registered private school
§ 3313.978 Scholarships and tutorial assistance grants
§ 3313.979 Payment of scholarships and grants to parents or to school district; monthly reports by private school

HB 66

Autism Scholarship Program (voucher program)
In 2004, the legislature established a pilot program to allow certain autistic children to attend a public school outside of their neighborhood or to use scholarships to pay for tuition at participating nonpublic schools. Students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade were given as much as $15,000 to pay for expenses related to their individual education plans. In 2005, HB 66 eliminated the pilot status, making the program permanent. HB 66 also raised the scholarship amount to $20,000 and eliminated the cap on how many students could participate in the program.

In 2010-2011, 1,672 students received scholarships to attend one of 233 participating schools. In 2007-2008, the average scholarship amount was $15,500.

Program Information

Ohio Department of Eduaction–Autism Scholarship Program Information

Bill and Rule Information

HB 95 (2004)
HB 66 (2005) Autism Scholarship Program Rule 3301-301-1 through 9 (scroll down the page to find the section titled, “Autism Scholarship Program”)

Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program (voucher program)
Ohio Governor Bob Taft signed House Bill 66 into law in June 2005. The bill amended two existing school choice programs and created the Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program for K-12 students attending failing schools.

Students who attend schools rated as in academic emergency for two out of the last three years have access to as much as $4,250 in grades K-8 and $5,000 in grades 9-12 for use at participating nonpublic schools. The number of scholarships available is capped at 14,000 students statewide. In 2010-2011, 13,195 students received a scholarship for use at one of 277 participating nonpublic schools.

Students residing in the Cleveland Municipal School District are not eligible for the Educational Choice Scholarship as they already have the option to apply for the Cleveland Scholarship Program.

Program Information

Ohio Department of Education–EdChoice Scholarship Program Information

Statute

Ohio Revised Code §3310

Oklahoma

Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities

On June 8, 2010, Governor Brad Henry signed into law House Bill 3393, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act. The law enables parents of students with an IEP who were enrolled in a public school in the previous school year to receive a scholarship to attend a participating nonpublic school.  Scholarships were awarded beginning in the 2010-2011 school year.

The scholarship is worth the amount of state and local dollars that would have been spent on the child in public school or the amount of private school tuition and fees, whichever is less.  The school district may also retain up to five percent of the scholarship amount as an administrative fee.

In 2010-2011, 10 students received scholarships to attend one of six participating nonpublic schools.

Program Information

Oklahoma Department of Education

Bill Information

House Bill 3393

Pennsylvania

Education Reform Program (includes a corporate tax credit)
Act 4 of 2001 created several new programs including the corporate tax credit. Corporations receive a tax credit of 75 cents for every dollar they donate to organizations that offer scholarships to students as a way to pay for private school tuition. If the donation is a multi-year commitment on the part of the corporation, the credit goes up to 90 cents for every dollar donated.

The program has seen several changes in the limits on contributions to the program (in Act 48 of 2003, Act 46 of 2005, and the 2008 and 2009 state budgets). The credit for a corporation may not exceed $300,000 (up from $100,000 in 2001) and there is a statewide cap of $50 million in tax credits (up from $30 million in 2001) for donations to scholarship organizations in a fiscal year. Additional tax credits of $15.6 million dollars are available for donations to innovative educational improvement for public schools and $6.4 million for a pre-kindergarten scholarship program.

The scholarships serve families with a household income of no more than $60,000 a year, plus $12,000 for every additional dependent in the household. Students entering grades Pre-K through 12 are eligible to receive a scholarship. In the 2010-2011 school year there were 242 private Scholarship Tuition Organizations to which businesses could contribute. In 2008-2009, 44,839 students received scholarships to attend nonpublic schools and non-neighborhood public schools through the Education Improvement Tax Credit.

Program Information

REACH Foundation — Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC)

House Bill and Statute

SB 180 This link includes the Educational Improvement Tax Credit found on pages 52 to 61, beginning at Section 29. SB 180 was passed in 2003 and became Act 48. The act itself is only available in hard copy format.
House Bill 628 (2005) Changes to the Education Improvement Tax Credit are found on pages 60 to 64, beginning at section 18.

Rhode Island

Corporate Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations
The Rhode Island General Assembly passed and Governor Donald Carcieri signed into law Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations in June 2006. Beginning in 2007, the program allows Rhode Island businesses to donate funds to scholarship organizations that provide low-income students tuition assistance grants to attend qualified nonpublic schools of the parents’ choice.

A business may receive no more than $100,000 in credit, and the total amount of credits the state will allow is capped at $1 million. The business will receive a credit equal to 75 percent of the actual amount contributed. If the business makes a commitment to donate two years in a row, the amount credited rises to 90 percent of the actual amount contributed. The credit is nonrefundable (cannot exceed the company’s tax burden) and cannot be carried over to the next tax year.

Each scholarship organization must operate as a nonprofit and is required to allocate at least 90 percent of its revenues to scholarships. Donors may not specify that a scholarship must go to any particular student or school. The bill does not prescribe how much each scholarship is worth but does require the scholarship organization to report to the state the dollar range and number of scholarships granted.

School-age students (K-12) are eligible to receive the scholarships if the family income is no more than 250 percent of the federal poverty line and the student has successfully registered at a qualified school. Any nonpublic school located in Rhode Island that meets state guidelines for nonpublic schools may accept scholarship payments.

In 2009-2010, 460 students received scholarships for use at 52 participating nonpublic schools.

Program Information

Rhode Island Division of Taxation–Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations

Statute

Rhode Island Statute § 44-62

Utah

Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs (voucher program)
On March 10, 2005, Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., signed House Bill 249, the Carson Smith Scholarships for Students With Special Needs Act. The scholarships enable Utah students who attend both public and nonpublic schools and who have certain disabilities to receive as much as $6,442.50 in public funds for tuition at participating nonpublic sectarian and nonsectarian schools. Nonpublic school students must attend a school that specializes in serving students with disabilities and an assessment team must be able to determine that the student has a qualifying disability and would be enrolled in special education classes in a public school.

Student enrollment in the program is limited by the amount of funding appropriated by the state legislature each year, which is $3.29 million in the 2010-2011 school year. A scholarship will continue for three years and may be renewed for an additional three years if an evaluation determines that special education services are still needed.

The program began providing scholarships in fall 2005. Some scholarships were granted retroactively for the 2004-2005 school year. A similar bill was introduced in 2004 and passed by the General Assembly. Governor Olene Walker vetoed the bill but left the $1.4 appropriation for the program in tact. These funds applied retroactively to students who attended participating nonpublic schools in 2004-2005 and met the qualifications listed above.

In 2010-2011, 624 students received scholarships for use at one of 43 participating schools.

Program Information

Utah Office of Education

Statute

§ 53A-1a-701 (scroll down to view sections 701 through 710) Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs Act

Vermont

Limited public funding of private schools
From 1869 to the present, students who reside in a district that does not have a public elementary or high school and is not a union high school district are allowed to attend school at an approved public or non-sectarian nonpublic school located within or outside of the state. In order to attend a private school the tuition funds must first be approved. If approved, full or partial tuition expenses are paid for by the town school district.

Students were allowed to attend religious schools under this law until 1961 when the Vermont Supreme Court prohibited religiously affiliated schools from taking public funds.

In the 2001-2002 school year approximately 7,147 students attended public and private schools as “tuition students” under this program.

A legislative bill, Act 60 was passed in 1999. Though the act had no effect on tuition fund disbursement, it added the requirement that tuition students take the new state Standards Reference Exam.

Statute

§ 16.21 (Scroll down the page and click on Vermont Statutes. Co to Title 16, Chapter 21. See entire chapter.)

Rule

Rule 9100 Net Cost Per Pupil

Wisconsin

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (voucher program)
This choice program was signed into law in 1990 and provides voucher opportunities for families who live in Milwaukee, whose children attended a Milwaukee school in the prior school year, and whose incomes are at or below 175 percent of poverty level.

Families who qualify may apply for the program and, if chosen, receive vouchers of as much as $6,442 (in 2010-2011) to enroll their K-12 students at a participating religious or secular nonpublic school of their choice. If more students apply at a particular school than there are open spots, students are selected by lottery.

In 2010-2011, 20,189 students participated in the program, attending 102 nonpublic voucher-accepting schools.

Program Information

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program Links

Statute

§ 119.23 Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

Rules

Chapter PI 35 Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

Washington, D.C.

Opportunity Scholarship Program (voucher program – reauthorized in 2011)
In 2004, Congress passed and President George Bush signed into law the DC School Choice Incentive Act. The Act established the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program for a five-year term.

When the program’s five-year term came to an end in 2009, Congress chose not to reauthorize the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. Students who had already been participating in the program were allowed to continue until they graduated.

On April 15, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1473, a budget resolution that also restored and expanded the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Any student who is a resident of the District of Columbia and whose household income does not exceed 185 percent of the poverty line is eligible to apply for a scholarship. Priority is given to low-income students whose schools have not made Adequate Yearly Progress for at least two years under the No Child Left Behind Act. If participating nonpublic schools have more applicants than open seats, the schools must choose students through a random lottery process.

In 2011-2012, the scholarships provide as much as $8,000 per year for grades K-8 and $12,000 for grades 9-12 to fund tuition, fees, and transportation expenses. Enrollment in the program is limited by congressional funding, which is $60 million for 2011-2012 and the following four years.  Students’ scholarships will be renewed annually until the program ends or their household income rises above 300 percent of the poverty line.

Students began using the scholarships in the 2004-2005 school year with 58 nonpublic schools and 1,027 students participating in the program. In 2010-2011, 1,012 students used scholarships at one of the 41 participating nonpublic schools.

The 2011 legislation also provides funding for DC public school improvement activities and charter school improvement and expansion.

Program Information

Washington Scholarship Fund: Private School Scholarships for District of Columbia Families

Statute

§ Title III, Section 301-313–DC School Choice Incentive Act of 2003

H. R. 1473 (2011)