Enacted 1990 • Launched 1990 • Voucher
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.
Latest Stats (2013-14)
- Students participating: 24,915
- Schools participating: 110
- Average voucher value: $6,442
In 2013-14, vouchers are worth the lesser of the following for each participating student: $6,442 or the
school’s operating and debt service cost per pupil. In 2014-15, the maximum voucher amount will be
$7,210 for grades K-8 and $7,856 for grades 9-12. Beginning in 2015-16, maximum voucher payments
increase by a percentage equal to the percentage increase in general school aid to Wisconsin public
schools. The voucher may not exceed the private school’s per-student costs, including operating
expenses and debt service. Parents of students in grades 9-12 that have an income greater than 220
percent of the federal poverty level ($51,810 for a family of four in 2013-14) may be charged additional
tuition above the voucher amount.
Students who live in Milwaukee and whose family income does not exceed 300 percent of the federal
poverty level are eligible ($70,650 for a family of four in 2013-14); moreover, a family’s income limit
increases by $7,000 if the student’s parents/legal guardians are married. Students who are continuing
the program from previous years and those who were on a school’s waiting list in the prior year because
the school did not have space available do not need to demonstrate income eligibility.
In June 2011, the ACLU filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division,
alleging that the Milwaukee voucher program violates federal laws prohibiting discrimination against
students with disabilities. In 1998, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the Milwaukee voucher
program does not violate either the state’s Compelled Support Clause or Blaine Amendment. The court
also affirmed the conclusions of Davis (1992), an earlier uniformity challenge to the school choice program.
Jackson v. Benson, 218 Wis. 2d 835, 578 N.W.2d 602 (1998), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 967 (1998).
Rules & Regulations
• Income Limit: 300 percent x poverty
• Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
• Geographic Limit: District (Milwaukee)
• Enrollment Cap: None
• Voucher Cap: $6,442
• Testing Mandates: Nationally recognized norm-referenced tests
Wis. Stat. § 119.23
Robbie Rhinesmith | email@example.com
How to apply: http://sms.dpi.wi.gov/sms_choice