The Alliance for School Choice recently highlighted the new and expanded school choice programs enacted in 2012. This year, state legislatures have already enacted five new programs in Louisiana, Virginia, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. In addition, existing programs have been expanded in Louisiana, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Virginia: Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits
- Allows individuals and businesses to receive a tax credit for contributions to nonprofit scholarship organizations that grant scholarships to qualified students
- All students that meet income requirements and are currently enrolled in public school or entering kindergarten or first grade are eligible
- Household income cannot exceed 300% of the federal poverty guideline or 400% of the federal poverty guideline for students with disabilities
- The scholarship is no more than the per student amount distributed to the local school division (ranges from $2,500 to $8,000 per student)
- The total amount of tax credits each year cannot exceed $25 million
New Hampshire: New Hampshire Education Tax Credit
- The law allows scholarship granting organizations to provide up to $2,500 for scholarships to children from low-income families to attend a school of their choice (household income must be equal or less than 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline).
- Businesses receive a tax credit equal to 85 percent of their donations and the program operates under a statewide cap of $3.4 million in the first year.
Pennsylvania: Educational Opportunity Scholarship Act
- Creates a scholarship tax credit program for children from low and middle-income families who attend the lowest-performing 15 percent of Pennsylvania schools (430 schools in PA fall is this category)
- Under the new program, eligible students at those schools will be able to receive scholarships to attend a school of their choice.
- Up to $50 million can be donated for these new scholarships beginning this fall.
Louisiana: Scholarship Tax Rebate Program
- Allows individuals and businesses to receive a rebate for money donated to organizations that grant private school scholarships to eligible students (household income can not exceed 250% of federal poverty guideline).
- All students entering kindergarten or currently enrolled in a public school are eligible to receive a scholarship. Students attending schools rated “D” or “F” by the state will receive first priority in the program.
Mississippi: Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program
- The law provides the option for children in grades 1-6 with dyslexia to receive a scholarship to attend a public or private school of their choice
- In order to be eligible, one of the requirements is that the school must be a public or state accredited nonpublic special purpose school that provides comprehensive dyslexia therapy instruction
- The amount of the scholarship is limited to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program base student cost (approximately $5,000 per year)
Florida: Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (enacted 2001)
- Currently has the largest tax credit program in the country, serving more than 39,000 students. Corporations receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit in return for their contributions.
- New law increases the cap on contributions by $10.25 million during the 2012-13 fiscal year to a total of $229 million.
- Allows students entering grades 2-5 and meeting the income guidelines to receive a scholarship even if they had not attended a public school in the prior year. Currently only students entering K-1 can receive scholarships if they had not previously been enrolled in public school.
- Allows private schools that enroll students with tax credit scholarships to administer the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, the state’s main standardized test. Current law does not allow that.
Louisiana: Students Scholarships for Excellence Program (enacted 2008)
- Currently allows low-income students in grades K-6 located in large, failing school districts (New Orleans and Jefferson Parish) to receive vouchers to attend the public or private school of their choice
- New law expands this program to make the school vouchers available throughout the entire state of Louisiana. Students are eligible if their family household income is less than 250% of the federal poverty guideline and attend schools rated “C”, “D”, and “F” by the state.
Pennsylvania: Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (enacted 2001)
- Provides scholarships to children from low- and middle-income families to attend the school of their parents’ choice. More than 40,000 students participated in the EITC program during the 2010-11 school year.
- New law raises the existing tax credit cap from $75 million to $100 million.
Arizona: Individual School Tuition Organization Tax Credit (enacted 1997)
- Currently allows individual tax credits for contributions to school tuition organizations in the amount $500 for single and $1,000 for joint filers
- New law doubles the maximum tax credit to $1,000 for single and $2,000 for joint filers.
Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program (enacted 2011)
- Currently allow parents of children with disabilities to withdraw their children from public schools and receive a portion of their public funding deposited into an education savings account.
- New law expands eligibility for the program to those enrolled in schools that receive D or F letter grades from the state, children of active-duty members of the military, and foster children who are being adopted.
Ohio: Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program (enacted 1995)
- Families who live within the boundaries of the Cleveland Municipal School District are eligible to use a voucher to send their children to private school
- Currently more than 5,000 Cleveland students receive this scholarship
- New law eliminates the parental co-payment for families residing in the Cleveland Muncipal School Districts. There is no co-pay requirement in any of the state’s three other school voucher programs.