Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program, the nation’s only private school choice program designed for students with autism, was enacted in 2003 and launched in 2004. The program offers reimbursement vouchers of up to $27,000 to students with autism who receive private educational services, including private schooling. Learn more about the program, including its funding, eligibility, and regulations, on this page.
America’s only private school choice program open only to students with autism
3,193 participating students (2015–16)
1 percent of students eligible statewide
272 participating service providers (2014–15)
Average voucher value: $20,279 (2014–15)
Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 181 percent
Ohio students on the autism spectrum may receive vouchers for education services from a private provider, including tuition at a private school.
Education services chosen by a student’s parents or custodian will be reimbursed by the state for up to $27,000 per year. After participating students receive education services, they apply to the state for reimbursement of expenses.
Students must be ages three to 21, diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and registered in a public school special education system. Students may use the voucher whether or not they were enrolled previously in public schools, though students not previously enrolled in public schools must formally transfer into the public system (they do not need to actually leave their private schools).
Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program is very similar to Mississippi’s Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship in that it is limited to a small percentage of students with special needs, although it is encouraging that funding per student per year was raised from $20,000 to up to $27,000. The program could improve the regulations it places on participating schools: Schools must have employees with appropriate state credentials, provide quarterly reports to the school district showing academic progress, be in operation for at least one year, and provide academic reports to parents and the child’s resident public school. For those reasons, Ohio’s Autism Scholarship potentially could serve more if it placed fewer regulations on schools and service providers and brought per-pupil funding in line with what students get in their public schools.
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.