Voucher programs: Student eligibility requirements


Voucher programs: Student eligibility requirements

March 2017


All states' voucher programs have eligibility requirements of some kind. States with multiple voucher programs have different eligibility requirements for each.

Students with a disability. Eleven programs in nine states: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. Generally, these programs require eligible students to have an identified disability and an Individual Education Program (IEP). 
 
Income eligible households. Four states plus the District of Columbia. States typically base eligibility on federal poverty guidelines or income guidelines for free or reduced price lunch programs.
 
Geography. Four programs in three states: Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. Students residing in certain cities are eligible for these programs. Wisconsin and Louisiana also require students to have an IEP or meet income eligibility requirements.
 
Low-performing schools. One state: Ohio.
 
Combination. Two states: Indiana and Louisiana. These states’ voucher programs have two or more eligibility requirements, including students with an IEP, students from income-eligible households or students assigned to a low-performing school. 
 
Town tuitioning. Two states: Maine and Vermont. These programs are specific to school districts without a public school and provide students residing in the district with public funds to either attend a private school or a public school in another district.
 
 

Student eligibility requirements
Arkansas Succeed Scholarship Program
An Individualized Education Program (IEP).
District of Columbia D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program
Students with household incomes up to 185 percent the federal poverty line or receiving assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 
Florida John M. McKay Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program
An Individual Education Program (IEP) or a 504 accommodation plan.
Georgia Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program
An Individualized Education Program (IEP). In addition, Georgia residency for at least one year with an exemption for children of active-duty military personnel stationed in the state.
Indiana Choice Scholarship Program
There are seven possible eligibility "pathways" for the state's voucher program. Students must meet at least one to participate in the program. 
  • Received a scholarship in the immediately preceding school year and a household income of 200 percent of the requirements for free and reduced price meal programs.
  • Received a scholarship in a preceding school year (but not the immediately preceding school year) and a household income of 150 percent of the requirements for free and reduced price meal programs.
  • Received a scholarship through the state's tax scholarship program from an approved scholarship granting organization in a previous school year and a household income of 150 percent of the requirements for free and reduced price meal programs.
  • Have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and a household income of up to 200 percent of the requirements for free and reduced price meal programs.
  • Assigned to a low-performing school and have  household income of up to 150 percent of the requirements for free and reduced price meal programs. Students in this category are not required to attend public school before becoming eligible for the voucher program.
  • Have a household income up to 150 percent of the requirements for free and reduced price meal programs and attended a public school for at least two of the immediately preceding semesters.
  • Sibling of a student who received either a voucher or a tax credit scholarship in a preceding school year and have a household income of up to 150 percent of the requirements for free and reduced price meal programs.
If an eligible student's household income increases after receiving the voucher, the student will still be eligible for the program if the household income is at or below 200 percent of the requirements for free and reduced price meal programs. 
Louisiana School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities
Students have a qualifying disability and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a service plan created by the private school the student will attend that clearly identifies what services will be provided and how they meet the student's needs. This voucher program is only for students living in a parish with population of 190,000 or more.
Louisiana Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence
Eligible students must have a household income of 250 percent or less of federal poverty guidelines, plus meet at least one of the following eligibility requirements:
  • Entering kindergarten and enrolled in a school within the Recovery School District.
  • Was enrolled in a low-performing school - receiving a C, D, or F grade in the most recent school year - during the previous school year.
  • Received a voucher in the previous school year.
Students may attend a private school or a public school meeting certain program requirements.
Maine Town Tuitioning
Students residing in a school district that does not maintain a public school with the students' grade. Eligible students may attend a public school in another school district or a nearby private school. 
Maryland Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today Program
Students are eligible for free or reduced-price meal programs. Applications are ranked based on family income as a percentage of federal poverty levels.
Mississippi Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia
Students in grades 1-6 screened and diagnosed with dyslexia with an Individual Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan. Eligible students may use the voucher to attend a private school or another public school with a dyslexia services program.
Mississippi Nate Rogers Scholarship for Students with Disabilities / Mississippi Speech-Language Therapy Scholarship for Students with Speech-Language Impairments
Students in grades K-6 screened and diagnosed with a speech-language impairment.
North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship
Students with a household income up to 133 percent of the income requirements for free or reduced-price meal programs and who meet one of the following guidelines:
  • Attended a North Carolina school during the previous semester.
  • Received a scholarship grant the previous year.
  • Entering kindergarten or first grade.
  • In foster care.
  • Adopted in the prior year.
  • Children of active-duty military personnel.
North Carolina Special Education Scholarships for Children with Disabilities
Students with a disability who meet one of the following criteria:
  • Identified as a child with a disability prior to the year of enrollment in kindergarten or first grade.
  • Received special education services at a North Carolina public school or as a preschool student in the previous semester.
  • Received a scholarship in the previous semester.
  • Child of active-duty military personnel.
  • Has lived in the state at least six months.
In addition, student eligibility must be assessed at least every three years by a local school district or a licensed psychiatrist or school psychologist.

Students may use the voucher monies to attend a private school or a public school that require tuition for non-resident students. 
Ohio Autism Scholarship Program
Students identified as autistic by the student's resident school district and with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students may attend a program that implements the student's IEP either at a private school or an alternative public school program. The voucher amount may be used for tuition and to pay for other services associated with educating the student.
Ohio Cleveland Scholarship Program
Students living in Cleveland. Students receive a voucher to attend a private school or to purchase tutoring services while attending public school.
Ohio EdChoice Expansion Program
The expansion program includes students in specific grades with household incomes at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Reduced voucher amounts are also available for families under 400 percent of federal poverty guidelines. In the 2016-17 school year, the program included grades K-3 and the state will add one additional grade each subsequent school year. 
Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program
Students assigned to a low-performing school. Specifically:
  • A school declared as in a state of academic emergency or watch.
  • A school that received a D or F rating in two of the three most recent report cards.  
  • The school was ranked in the lowest 10 percent on the performance index for two of the three most recent rankings.
  • Students entering kindergarten and assigned to a low-performing school.
  • Students attending a charter school whose assigned home school is an eligible, low-performing school are eligible for the voucher program.
  • Students assigned to a low-performing public school but enrolled in a private school at the time the private school becomes eligible for the voucher program and receives a "nonpublic charter" from the state.
Ohio Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program
A student with a disability identified by the school district of residence and an Individual Education Program (IEP). Students may use the voucher monies to attend a school district outside of the student's resident district, a public entity other than a school district, or a private school.
Oklahoma Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program
An Individualized Education Program (IEP). 
Utah Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs
Students at least 3 years old with a qualifying disability and an Individualized Education Program (IEP). A student without an IEP may qualify if the student will attend a private school that previously served students with disabilities and an assessment team determines the student has a disability that would qualify for special education services. 

Vouchers are for three years. To be extended, students must be approved by an assessment team made up of the parent, the private school teacher, special education personnel from the student's private school, and special education personnel from the student's resident school district.
Vermont Town Tuitioning
Students residing in a school district that does not maintain a public elementary or high school. Eligible students may attend a public school in another school district or a private school.
Wisconsin Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
Household income up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Students must live in the city of Milwaukee. 
Wisconsin Racine Parental Private School Choice Program
Students living in the city of Racine with a household income up to 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. 
Wisconsin Special Needs Scholarship Program
An Individual Education Program (IEP). In addition, eligible students must have applied for an open enrollment transfer, for reasons specific to the student's special needs, in prior school years that was denied for various reasons.
Wisconsin Wisconsin Parental Choice Program
Students with a household income up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level living outside of Racine or Milwaukee. Students living outside of these two cities who participated in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program or the Racine Parental School Choice Program during the previous school year are also eligible.

© 2018 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). All rights reserved. ECS is the only nationwide, nonpartisan interstate compact devoted to education. 700 Broadway #810, Denver, CO 80203-3442

To request permission to excerpt part of this publication, either in print or electronically, please contact the Education Commission of the States’ Communications Department at 303.299.3609 or askinner@ecs.org.

Your Education Policy Team  www.ecs.org