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Indiana – Choice Scholarship Program


Indiana – Choice Scholarship Program

Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program was enacted and launched in 2011, and is now one of America’s largest and fastest-growing school voucher programs. It is currently open to low- and middle-income families. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history, and more.

Program Fast Facts

  • 32,686 participating students (2014–15)

  • 59 percent of students income-eligible statewide

  • 316 participating schools (2015–16)

  • Average voucher value: $3,867 (2015–16)

  • Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 40 percent

Program Details

Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program Participation

Students Participating
School Year Ending

Click the + symbols to learn more about this program’s details.

Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program allows students in lower-income families to receive vouchers to attend private schools.

Student Funding

Students from families that qualified for the federal free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) program can receive a voucher worth up to 90 percent of the state per-student spending amount for the sending school district. Students from families earning 150 percent of that same threshold can receive a voucher worth up to 50 percent of the state funding allocation for the sending district. Families can supplement vouchers with additional funds. Students eligible to receive special education funds are now eligible to use those funds for special education services at a voucher-accepting school.

Student Eligibility

Children must be between ages five and 22 to participate. Eligible students include: (1) students who attended a public school (including a charter school) for the preceding two semesters and who are from families earning up to (but not exceeding) 150 percent of FRL ($67,295 for a family of four in 2015-16), (2) students with disabilities that have an Individualized Education Plan and who are from families earning up to (but not exceeding) 200 percent of FRL ($89,726 for a family of four in 2015-16), (3) students who attended or would attend a public school designated F and who are from families earning up to (but not exceeding) 150 percent of FRL, (4) students or siblings of students who received a minimum of a $500 tax-credit scholarship in the previous school year from a Scholarship Granting Organization, or (5) students who received a voucher in the previous school year under this program and are from families earning up to (but not exceeding) 200 percent of FRL.

Friedman Feedback

Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program is the fastest growing statewide voucher program in the country. Still, the program is lacking in some areas. The average voucher amount is below half of what public school students receive. Also, the income eligibility level is too low for higher-income families to participate. Lastly, participating private schools are required to allow the state to review classroom instruction, instructional materials, and curriculum, and administer the state test. The program has ample room to grow by providing the parents with increased funding and eligibility and lowering regulations on private schools.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: 150 percent x FRL
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Conditional
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Voucher Cap: Conditional
  • Testing Mandates: State


School Requirements:

  • Be accredited by either the state board or a national or regional accreditation agency that is recognized by the state board
  • Comply with health and safety codes
  • Must not discriminate on basis of race, color, or national origin
  • Conduct criminal background checks on employees
  • Submit to the state financial reporting on the amount of government funding received, funding disbursed, and school’s total disbursements
  • Administer the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) program and report to the state data for A–F ratings including ISTEP scores and graduation rates
    • To remain eligible to accept new scholarship students, a school must not be rated as D or F for two or more consecutive years
  • Must grant the state full access to its premises for observing classroom instruction and reviewing any instructional materials and curriculum
  • Provide civic and character education and display related historical documents

Governing Statutes

Ind. Code §§ 20-51-1 through 4

Legal History

On July 1, 2011, teachers’ union officials and others challenged Indiana’s voucher program in state court, alleging the Indiana Constitution prohibits funding of religious schools. A Marion County Superior Court judge denied a motion for preliminary injunction. The trial court issued a summary judgment January 13, 2012, in favor of the program. After an appeal was issued, the Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the program November 21, 2012. On March 26, 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled unanimously the Choice Scholarship Program does not violate any provision of the state constitution. Meredith v. Pence, Indiana Supreme Court, No. 49S00-1203-PL-172.

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