America's School Choice Programs Ranked by Purchasing Power, 2018 Edition
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  • Jan 24 2018

America’s School Choice Programs Ranked by Purchasing Power, 2018 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 families to truly afford their chosen educational options. Here, we rank the nation’s educational choice programs by purchasing power based on data in the 2018 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) 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 5 programs in this list have per-pupil spending amounts that are higher than public school per-pupil spending in their jurisdictions. This is because they 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. Those programs with average spending amounts less than the average per-pupil spending can generate fiscal savings for states, but some school choice programs are funded at such low levels that participating families have little actual purchasing power.

1. Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program (1)
Voucher195% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $22,748

2. Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (2)
ESA166% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $12,400 (projected)

3. Florida’s Gardiner Scholarship Program (6)
ESA116% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $10,311 (projected)

4. Wisconsin’s Special Needs Scholarship Program (4)
Voucher107% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $12,129

5. South Carolina’s Refundable Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children (5)
Individual Tax Credit103% of average per-pupil spending in South Carolina public schools | $10,000 (maximum)

6. Utah’s Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program (14)
Voucher90% of average per-pupil spending in Utah public schools | $5,905

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

8. Ohio’s Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program (9)
Voucher84% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools |$9,818

9. Florida’s John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program (10)
Voucher82% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $7,287 (projected)

10. Mississippi’s Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program (11)
ESA80% of average per-pupil spending in Mississippi public schools | $6,637

11. Vermont’s Town Tuitioning Program (13)
Voucher77% of average per-pupil spending in Vermont public schools | $13,152

12.Tennessee’s Individualized Education Account Program (15)
ESA77% of average per-pupil spending in Tennessee public schools | $6,721

13. Oklahoma’s Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities (12)
Voucher76% of average per-pupil spending in Oklahoma public schools | $6,161 (projected)

14. North Carolina’s Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities (8)
Voucher75% of average per-pupil spending in North Carolina public schools | $6,508

15. Arkansas’s Succeed Scholarship Program (16)
Voucher69% of average per-pupil spending in Arkansas public schools | $6,713

16. Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (20)
Tax-Credit Scholarship68% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $6,007(projected)

17. Wisconsin’s Parental Choice Program (Statewide) (17)
Voucher66% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $7,512

18. Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (18)
Voucher66% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $7,503

19. Wisconsin’s Parental Private School Choice Program (Racine) (19)
Voucher65% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $7,447

20. Arizona’s Lexie’s Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program (21)
Tax-Credit Scholarship63% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $4,696

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

*Note: On the books this program’s purchasing power is strong; however, this the program is not yet operating as the legislature has yet to secure a funding stream.

22. Alabama’s Education Scholarship Program (26)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 60% of average per-pupil spending in Alabama public schools | $5,468

23. Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program (23)
Voucher59% of average per-pupil spending in Georgia public schools | $5,606

24. Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program (24)
Voucher59% of average per-pupil spending in Mississippi public schools | $4,980

25. Nevada’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program (3)
Tax-Credit Scholarship53% of average per-pupil spending in Nevada public schools | $4,530

26. Louisiana Scholarship Program (25)
Voucher53% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $5,869

27. District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (27)
Voucher49% of average per-pupil spending in D.C. public schools | $9,570

28. South Carolina’s Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children (32)
Tax-Credit Scholarship48% of average per-pupil spending in South Carolina public schools | $4,800

29. North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarships (29)
Voucher47% of average per-pupil spending in North Carolina public schools | $4,046 (projected)

30.Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program (30)
Voucher43% of average per-pupil spending in Indiana public schools | $4,146

31. Wisconsin’s K–12 Private School Tuition Deduction (31)
Individual Tax Deduction42% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $4,932

32. Georgia’s Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit (36)
Tax-Credit Scholarship40% of average per-pupil spending in Georgia public schools | $3,777

33. Ohio’s Cleveland Scholarship Program (39)
Voucher40% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $4,620

34. Ohio’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program (35)
Voucher40% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $4,705

35. Louisiana’s Tuition Donation Credit Program (33)
Tax-Credit Scholarship38% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $4,148

36. Louisiana’s Elementary and Secondary School Tuition Deduction (34)
Individual Tax Deduction38% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $4,060

37. Ohio’s Income-Based Scholarship Program (37)
Voucher35% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $4,084

38. Arizona’s Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program (40)
Tax-Credit Scholarship29% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $2,165

39. Virginia’s Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program (42)
Tax-Credit Scholarship28% of average per-pupil spending in Virginia public schools | $3,134

40. Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 Parent-Taxpayer Refundable Tax Credits (38)
Individual Tax Credit27% of average per-pupil spending in Alabama public schools | $2,424

41. Rhode Island’s Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations (44)
Tax-Credit Scholarship25% of average per-pupil spending in Rhode Island public schools | $3,7383

42. Kansas’s Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program (48)
Tax-Credit Scholarship23% of average per-pupil spending in Kansas public schools | $2,315

43. Arizona’s Original Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program (40)
Tax-Credit Scholarship23% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $1,724

44. Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarships (53)
Tax-Credit Scholarship22% of average per-pupil spending in Oklahoma public schools | $1,765

45. Louisiana’s School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities (43)
Voucher21% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $1,765

46. Indiana’s School Scholarship Tax Credit (47)
Tax-Credit Scholarship20% of average per-pupil spending in Indiana public schools | $1,978

47. Indiana’s Private School/Homeschool Deduction (45)
Individual Tax Deduction19% of average per-pupil spending in Indiana public schools | $1,805

48. Arizona’s “Switcher” Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program (46)
Tax-Credit Scholarship18% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $1,360

49. Pennsylvania’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program (49)
Tax-Credit Scholarship18% of average per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania public schools | $2,668

50. Maryland’s Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program (51)
Voucher16% of average per-pupil spending in Maryland public schools | $2,294

51. New Hampshire’s Education Tax Credit Program (52)
Tax-Credit Scholarship15% of average per-pupil spending in New Hampshire public schools | $2,148

52. Iowa’s School Tuition Organization Tax Credit (50)
Tax-Credit Scholarship14% of average per-pupil spending in Iowa public schools | $1,583

53. Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (54)
Tax-Credit Scholarship11% of average per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania public schools | $1,673

54. Minnesota’s Education Deduction (55)
Individual Tax Deduction10% of average per-pupil spending in Minnesota public schools | $1,149

55. South Dakota’s Partners in Education Tax Credit Program (56)
Tax-Credit Scholarship8% of average per-pupil spending in South Dakota public schools | $748

56. Montana’s Tax Credits for Contributions to Student Scholarship Organizations (57)
Tax-Credit Scholarship5% of average per-pupil spending in Montana public schools | $500

57. Illinois’s Tax Credits for Educational Expenses (59)
Individual Tax Credit2% of average per-pupil spending in Illinois public schools | $262

58. Minnesota’s K–12 Education Credit (58)
Individual Tax Credit2% of average per-pupil spending in Minnesota public schools | $255

59. Iowa’s Tuition and Textbook Tax Credit (60)
Individual Tax Credit1% of average per-pupil spending in Iowa public schools | $116

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

Not Ranked (new) programs:

  • Illinois Invest in Kids Program
  • New Hampshire Town Tuitioning Program
  • North Carolina Personal Education Savings Accounts

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