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  • Jan 26 2017

America’s School Choice Programs Ranked by Purchasing Power, 2017 Edition

We’ve given our readers an overview of educational choice programs across the nation this week with rankings based on eligibility and participation. But one major question still remains: How well are these programs funded?

The best educational choice policies make as many children as possible eligible to participate, but also empower participants to truly afford their chosen educational options. Here, we’ll rank the nation’s educational choice programs by purchasing power based on the data in the 2017 edition of The ABCs of School Choice. Last year’s rankings are in parentheses following each program name; however, changes may be just as much due to changes in public school funding as they are program funding.

To rank programs by purchasing power, we don’t look at the actual or average dollar amount of funding. Instead, we compare each program’s most recent per-pupil spending to the state’s (or D.C.’s) most recent average per-pupil spending in public schools. For context, we’ve also given the actual dollar amount for each program’s average per-pupil spending. If you’d like to see more program data or data updated after this post, please make sure to visit our School Choice in America data dashboard.

The top six programs in the list actually have per-pupil spending amounts that are higher than public school per-pupil spending in their jurisdictions. This is because all but one of these programs serve primarily or exclusively students with special needs, who tend to receive more educational funding in public schools, as well. We compare the average funding amounts for these programs to the average funding for the entire student body in local public schools. This may be one of the reasons why of the 16 highest ranked programs all but three primarily or exclusively serve students with special needs. Per-pupil spending averages for public school students with special needs are not available.

1. Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program (1)
Voucher |179% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $20,279

2. Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (2)
ESA172% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $12,209 (projected)

3. Nevada’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program (44)
Tax-Credit Scholarship129% of average per-pupil spending in Nevada public schools | $10,825

4. Wisconsin’s Special Needs Scholarship Program (4)
Voucher |107% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $12,000

5. South Carolina’s Refundable Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children (5)
Individual Tax Credit |103% of average per-pupil spending in South Carolina public schools | $10,000 (maximum)

6. Florida’s Gardiner Scholarship Program (3)
ESA |101% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $8,840

7. Maine’s Town Tuitioning Program (10)
Voucher88% of average per-pupil spending in Maine public schools | $11,162 (maximum)

8. North Carolina’s Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities (23)
Voucher |87% of average per-pupil spending in North Carolina public schools | $7,421 (projected)

9. Ohio’s Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program (7)
Voucher |86% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools |$9,794

10. Florida’s John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program (9)
Voucher |82% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $7,217 (projected)

11. Mississippi’s Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program (12)
ESA |80% of average per-pupil spending in Mississippi public schools | $6,637

12. Oklahoma’s Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities (8)
Voucher |80% of average per-pupil spending in Oklahoma public schools | $6,285

13. Vermont’s Town Tuitioning Program (6)
Voucher |77% of average per-pupil spending in Vermont public schools | $13,152

14. Utah’s Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program (11)
Voucher76% of average per-pupil spending in Utah public schools | $4,938

15. Tennessee’s Individualized Education Account Program (13)
ESA72% of average per-pupil spending in Tennessee public schools | $6,200 (projected)

16. Arkansas’s Succeed Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities (14)
Voucher69% of average per-pupil spending in Arkansas public schools | $6,646

17. Wisconsin’s Parental Choice Program (Statewide) (16)
Voucher66% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $7,399

18. Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (17)
Voucher66% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $7,384

Wisconsin’s Parental Private School Choice Program (Racine) (18)
Voucher |65% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $7,337

Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (20)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |63% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $5,476 (projected)

21. Arizona’s Lexie’s Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program (19)
Tax-Credit Scholarship62% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $4,447

22. Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts (21)
ESA61% of average per-pupil spending in Nevada public schools | $5,139 (projected)

23. Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program (24)
Voucher61% of average per-pupil spending in Georgia public schools | $5,614

24. Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program (22)
Voucher |60% of average per-pupil spending in Mississippi public schools | $4,980

25. Louisiana Scholarship Program (25)
Voucher |54% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $5,856

26. Alabama’s Education Scholarship Program (15)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 54% of average per-pupil spending in Alabama public schools | $4,869 (projected)

27. District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (27)
Voucher |51% of average per-pupil spending in D.C. public schools | $9,472 (projected)

28. Colorado’s Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program (26)
Voucher51% of average per-pupil spending in Colorado public schools | $4,572

29. North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarships (28)
Voucher47% of average per-pupil spending in North Carolina public schools | $4,024 (projected)

30. Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program (31)
Voucher42% of average per-pupil spending in Indiana public schools | $4,024

31. Wisconsin’s K–12 Private School Tuition Deduction (56)
Individual Tax Credit |42% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $4,696 (projected)

32. South Carolina’s Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children (30)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |42% of average per-pupil spending in South Carolina public schools | $4,078

33. Louisiana’s Tuition Donation Rebate Program (32)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |39% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $4,214

34. Louisiana’s Elementary and Secondary School Tuition Deduction (34)
Individual Tax Credit | 35% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $4,060

35. Ohio’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program (33)
Voucher |37% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $4,257

36. Georgia’s Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit (35)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |37% of average per-pupil spending in Georgia public schools | $3,425

37. Ohio’s Income-Based Scholarship Program (36)
Voucher33% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $3,761

38. Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 Parent-Taxpayer Refundable Tax Credits (41)
Individual Tax Credit |30% of average per-pupil spending in Alabama public schools | $2,699

39. Ohio’s Cleveland Scholarship Program (38)
Voucher27% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $3,101

40. Arizona’s Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program (39)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |25% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $1,892

41. Arizona’s Original Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program (40)
Tax-Credit Scholarship25% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $1,846

42. Virginia’s Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program (42)
Tax-Credit Scholarship23% of average per-pupil spending in Virginia public schools | $2,535

43. Louisiana’s School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities (43)
Voucher21% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $2,264

44. Rhode Island’s Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations (45)
Tax-Credit Scholarship20% of average per-pupil spending in Rhode Island public schools | $3,024

45. Indiana’s Private School/Homeschool Deduction (47)
Individual Tax Credit |19% of average per-pupil spending in Indiana public schools | $1,805

46. Arizona’s “Switcher” Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program (46)
Tax-Credit Scholarship18% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $1,496

47. Indiana’s School Scholarship Tax Credit (52)
Tax-Credit Scholarship17% of average per-pupil spending in Indiana public schools | $1,668

48. Kansas’s Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program (50)
Tax-Credit Scholarship17% of average per-pupil spending in Kansas public schools | $1,693

49. Pennsylvania’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program (48)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |17% of average per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania public schools | $2,312

50. Iowa’s School Tuition Organization Tax Credit (49)
Tax-Credit Scholarship15% of average per-pupil spending in Iowa public schools | $1,624

51. Maryland’s Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program (NEW)
Voucher |14% of average per-pupil spending in Maryland public schools | $1,943

52. New Hampshire’s Education Tax Credit Program (54)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |14% of average per-pupil spending in New Hampshire public schools | $1,950

53. Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarships (51)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |12% of average per-pupil spending in Oklahoma public schools | $940

54. Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (53)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |11% of average per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania public schools | $1,587

55. Minnesota’s Education Deduction (55)
Individual Tax Credit |10% of average per-pupil spending in Minnesota public schools | $1,154

56. South Dakota’s Partners in Education Tax Credit Program (NEW)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |8% of average per-pupil spending in South Dakota public schools | $748

57. Montana’s Tax Credits for Contributions to Student Scholarship Organizations (37)
Tax-Credit Scholarship |5% of average per-pupil spending in Montana public schools | $500

58. Minnesota’s K–12 Education Credit (57)
Individual Tax Credit2% of average per-pupil spending in Minnesota public schools | $272

59. Illinois’s Tax Credits for Educational Expenses (58)
Individual Tax Credit2% of average per-pupil spending in Illinois public schools | $259

60. Iowa’s Tuition and Textbook Tax Credit (59)
Individual Tax Credit1% of average per-pupil spending in Iowa public schools | $115

61. Mississippi’s Nate Rogers Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program (29)
Voucher0% of average per-pupil spending in Mississippi public schools | $0 (no participants)

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