The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

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

Maine - Town Tuitioning Program

Launched 1873 • Voucher

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.

Latest Stats (2012-13)

  • Students participating: 5,646
  • Schools participating: 50
  • Average voucher value: $7,347 (K-8), $9,317 (9-12), $8,873 (out of state)

Program Details

Student Funding
Public schools in Maine have a tuition rate that sending towns must pay when their students are tuitioned at public schools. For private schools, the tuition rate for elementary students may not exceed the average per-pupil cost on a statewide basis. For secondary pupils, the tuition rate is Maine’s average per-pupil cost for secondary education in the previous year, plus an additional payment intended to cover depreciation of private schools’ buildings. Parents may supplement that voucher with their own money. Voucher values vary from county to county based on current per-student funding levels. Sending towns have the option of increasing the voucher to as high as 115 percent of the per-student funding, but may not reduce the voucher below that rate.

Student Eligibility
Students must live in Maine and reside in an identified sending town that does not have a public school at their grade level.

Legal Developments
In 1981, the Maine legislature banned religious schools from participating in the Town Tuitioning Program that was first established in 1873. In 1999, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld the exclusion of religious schools. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review. After the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of vouchers in Cleveland, the Institute for Justice and Maine families again asked a Maine court to overturn the 1981 law, but the exclusion of religious options was upheld. Anderson v. Town of Durham, 895 A.2d 944 (Me. 2006).

Rules & Regulations
• Income Limit: None
• Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
• Geographic Limit: District (without elementary or high school)
• Enrollment Cap: None
• Voucher Cap: $7,347 (K-8) / $9,317 (9-12)
• Testing Mandates: Conditional - state assessment tests

Governing Statutes
Maine Rev. Stat. 20-A §§ 2951-55

Friedman Contact
Michael Chartier |

Related Research

10/30/2014 The School Starter Checklist: Meeting the Private Education Regulations in States with School Choice
3/6/2013 Maine K-12 and School Choice Survey
2/5/2008 Grading School Choice: Evaluating School Choice Programs by the Friedman Gold Standard
10/1/2005 Using School Choice: Analyzing How Parents Access Educational Freedom
1/1/2003 Grading Vouchers: Ranking America’s School Choice Programs
1/1/2002 The Effects of Town Tuitioning in Maine and Vermont

Related News

3/12/2014 National Review Online | Choosing to Learn
1/23/2014 U.S. voucher, school choice enrollment reaches record high
8/15/2013 Sharing your story in “The ABCs” can be as easy as one, two, three
3/14/2013 Enlow | School Choice Offers Incentives to Improve Public Education
1/23/2013 “The ABCs of School Choice,” 2013 Edition, Now Available

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