Author(s): Robert C. Enlow
Over fifty years ago, Milton and Rose Friedman proposed the idea that has become known as school choice. The Friedman Foundation was founded in 1996 with the goal of championing that idea. Since then, numerous school choice programs have been enacted, each representing a different realization of the Friedmans' vision, and each deviating in some ways from the gold standard they laid down for school choice. Grading School Choice evaluates all 21 existing school choice programs against the Friedman gold standard of choice for all, not just for some.
Enacted 2003 • Launched 2004
Ohio students on the autism spectrum may receive vouchers for education services from a private provider, including tuition at a private school. After participating students receive education services, they apply to the state for reimbursement of expenses.
Enacted 2005 • Launched 2005
Most Utah students who have disabilities are eligible to receive vouchers to attend private school.
However, participation is limited by the amount of money appropriated to the $3.75 million program
Enacted 1995 • Launched 1996
Parents in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District can receive vouchers to send their children to
private school or public schools bordering the school district. No more than half of new recipients may
be students previously enrolled in private schools.
Enacted 1955 • Launched 1955
Minnesota provides a tax deduction covering educational expenses for students in any private or
public school, including homeschooling. The tax deduction lowers a family’s taxable income and
covers books, tutors, academic after-school programs, and other educational expenses, including
tuition payments at private schools.
Enacted 2005 • Launched 2006
Ohio students attending chronically low-performing public schools are eligible for “EdChoice”
vouchers to attend private schools. The cap on available vouchers is 60,000.
Enacted 2001 • Launched 2001
Pennsylvania provides tax credits for corporate contributions to Scholarship Organizations (SOs),
nonprofits that provide private school scholarships, or Educational Improvement Organizations,
nonprofits that support innovative programs in public schools. Tax credits are worth 75 percent of the
contribution; however, a 90 percent credit can be claimed if the corporation commits to two consecutive
annual contributions. In either case, the maximum tax credit is $750,000 per company. Credits are
awarded to companies on a first-come, first-served basis until the cap is reached. The total amount of
tax credits is limited to $100 million.
Enacted 2001 • Launched 2001
Florida provides a tax credit on corporate income taxes and insurance premium taxes for donations
to Scholarship Funding Organizations (SFOs), nonprofits that provide scholarships for low-income
students and children in foster care and offer funds for transportation to public schools outside a
child’s district. Businesses get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for SFO contributions, with total credits
capped at $286.25 million. Unused credits can be carried forward to the next fiscal year.
Enacted 2007 • Launched 2007
The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program allows any student with a disability whose parents
are unhappy with their assigned public school to receive a voucher to attend private school.
Enacted as a Pilot Program 1999 • Expanded 2000
Florida’s John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program allows public school
students with disabilities or 504 plans to receive vouchers to attend private schools or other public
Enacted 2006 • Launched 2006
Arizona provides a credit on corporate income taxes for C-Corporations for donations to School Tuition
Organizations (STOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. STOs receiving donations
for this program must award scholarships to low-income students. Corporate taxpayers contributing
to STOs may claim a tax credit equal to the full amount of their contribution. The program is limited
to a total of $35.8 million in available tax credits per year, a figure that is allowed to rise 20 percent
Enacted 1990 • Launched 1990
Milwaukee families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines qualify to receive vouchers.
Once a student receives a voucher, that student is able to keep it, regardless of his or her family’s future
income. Voucher students are allowed to attend any participating private school in the state.
Enacted 2004 • Launched 2004
The District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program provides vouchers to low-income
students. Overseen by the U.S. Department of Education, the program is funded separately from D.C.
public and charter schools. It is authorized through 2016, with $20 million in total available funding.
Enacted 1997 • Launched 1997
Arizona provides a credit on individual income taxes for donations to School Tuition Organizations
(STOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. In the 2014 tax year, individual taxpayers
contributing to STOs may claim a dollar-for-dollar credit of up to $528, and married couples filing
jointly may claim up to $1,056. The amount an individual can claim for a credit increases each year by
the amount the Consumer Price Index changes.
Enacted 2006 • Launched 2006
Iowa provides a credit on individual income taxes for donations to School Tuition Organizations (STOs),
nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. The credit is worth 65 percent of the donation’s
value, which also is limited by a statewide cap. A maximum of $12 million in tax credits is available.
Each STO is able to grant tax credits to its donors up to its share of the statewide limit, with each STO’s
share determined by the enrollment at the schools it serves. Corporate donations are able to constitute
up to 25 percent of the $12 million cap.
Enacted 2006 • Launched 2007
Rhode Island provides a credit on corporate income taxes for donations to Scholarship Granting
Organizations (SGOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. Tax credits are worth 75
percent of the contribution, or 90 percent if donated for two consecutive years and the second year’s
donation is worth at least 80 percent of the first year’s donation. The total amount of tax credits is
capped at $1.5 million. Each corporate donor can receive only $100,000 in tax credits each year, and
cannot use surplus donations in one year to generate tax credits in future years.
Enacted 1999 • Launched 2000
Illinois allows individuals to claim a credit for educational expenses for dependent students attending
a private or public school or being homeschooled. Qualified expenses include tuition, books, and lab or
activity fees. The credit is worth a maximum of $500.
Many small towns in Maine do not operate high schools, and some do not have elementary schools.
Students in those towns are eligible for vouchers to attend public schools in other towns or non-religious
private schools, even outside the state. The “sending” towns pay tuition directly to the “receiving”
schools. Although most towns allow parents to choose which schools will receive their students, some
towns send all their students to one school.
Many towns in Vermont, particularly in rural areas, do not operate public high schools and/or
elementary schools. Students in those towns may use public dollars to attend any public or approved
independent (private), non-religious school in or outside of Vermont. The “tuitioning” towns pay
tuition directly to the “receiving” schools. For 2013-14, tuition amounts equal $11,703 for grades K-6
and $13,084 for grades 7-12. Although most tuitioning towns allow parents to choose which schools
will receive their students, some towns send all their students to one school.
Enacted 1987 • Launched 1987
Iowa provides parents of students in any private or public school a tax credit covering educational
expenses, including tuition, books, and lab or activity fees. The credit is worth a maximum of $250.