The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman's Vision of School Choice for All Children

Grading Vouchers: Ranking America’s School Choice Programs

Released: 1/1/2003

Author(s): Robert C. Enlow

This study grades all existing school choice programs against the gold standard of full educational freedom for every student.

Programs

Cleveland Scholarship & Tutoring 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.

Education Deduction

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.

Educational Improvement Tax Credit

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.

Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program

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.

John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program

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 schools.

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program

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.

Opportunity Scholarship Program

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.

Original Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program

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.

Tax Credits for Educational Expenses

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.

Town Tuitioning Program

Launched 1873

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.

Town Tuitioning Program

Launched 1869

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.

Tuition and Textbook Tax Credit

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.

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