America’s School Choice Programs Ranked by Purchasing Power, 2019 Edition - EdChoice
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  • Jan 23 2019

America’s School Choice Programs Ranked by Purchasing Power, 2019 Edition

Our team has never been shy about our focus on broad eligibility in school choice programs, but a program that’s open to all families is only as good as the purchasing power it provides those families.

So how well are America’s private school choice programs funded?

In this post, we rank the nation’s educational choice programs by purchasing power based on data in the 2019 edition of The ABCs of School Choice.

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 each program’s students receive, on average. For a handful of programs, these figures have been extrapolated for the entire 2018–19 school year based on Fall 2018 data. For others, we are only able to list the maximum funding levels. All other programs represent the average per-student funding levels for the most recent year of data. 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 Dashboard.

Last year’s rankings are in parentheses following each program name. Changes in a program’s ranking don’t just come from individual school choice usage or policies, such as an increase in program funding. They may be due just as much to changes in public school funding, which serves as the denominators in these calculations, as well as the relative purchasing power and additions of other programs.

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.

Without further ado, your 2019 school choice program rankings for purchasing power.

1. Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program (1)
Voucher | 196% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $22,996

2. Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (2)
ESA | 177% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $13,431 (2018–19 projected)

3. Florida’s Gardiner Scholarship Program (3)
ESA | 114% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $10,418 (2018–19 projected)

4. Wisconsin’s Special Needs Scholarship Program (4)
Voucher | 106% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $12,212

5. North Carolina’s Personal Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities (NR)
ESA | 104% of average per-pupil spending in North Carolina public schools | $8,899 (2018–19 projected)

6. Illinois’s Invest in Kids Program (NR)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 94% of average per-pupil spending in Illinois public schools | $12,973 (maximum)

7. Utah’s Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program (6)
Voucher | 94% of average per-pupil spending in Utah public schools | $5,816

8. Ohio’s Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program (8)
Voucher | 85% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools |$9,913

9. North Carolina’s Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities (14)
Voucher | 84% of average per-pupil spending in North Carolina public schools | $7,129 (2018–19 projected)

10. Oklahoma’s Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities (13)
Voucher | 82% of average per-pupil spending in Oklahoma public schools | $6,624

11. Florida’s John M. McKay Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program (9)
Voucher | 82% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $7,352 (2018–19 projected)

12. Florida’s Hope Scholarship Program (NR)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 78% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $7,111 (maximum)

13. Vermont’s Town Tuitioning Program (11)
Voucher | 77% of average per-pupil spending in Vermont public schools | $13,152

14. Mississippi’s Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program (10)
ESA | 77% of average per-pupil spending in Mississippi public schools | $6,494

15. Maine’s Town Tuitioning Program (7)
Voucher | 75% of average per-pupil spending in Maine public schools | $11,093 (maximum)

16. Tennessee’s Individualized Education Account Program (12)
ESA | 75% of average per-pupil spending in Tennessee public schools | $6,721 (2018–19 projected)

17. Arkansas’s Succeed Scholarship Program (15)
Voucher | 69% of average per-pupil spending in Arkansas public schools | $6,781 (maximum)

18. Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program (16)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 68% of average per-pupil spending in Florida public schools | $6,323 (2018–19 projected)

19. Wisconsin’s Parental Choice Program (Statewide) (17)
Voucher | 67% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $7,712

20. Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (18)
Voucher | 67% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $7,708

21. Wisconsin’s Parental Private School Choice Program (Racine) (19)
Voucher | 66% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $7,669

22. Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program (23)
Voucher | 66% of average per-pupil spending in Georgia public schools | $6,223

23. Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts (21)*
ESA | 65% of average per-pupil spending in Nevada public schools | $5,423 (projected)

*Program neither currently funded nor operable.

24. South Carolina’s Refundable Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children (5)
Individual Tax Credit | 63% of average per-pupil spending in South Carolina public schools | $6,211

25. Arizona’s Lexie’s Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax Credit Scholarship Program (20)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 62% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $4,696

26. Nevada’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program (25)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 61% of average per-pupil spending in Nevada public schools | $5,139 (2018–19 projected)

27. Alabama’s Education Scholarship Program (22)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 61% of average per-pupil spending in Alabama public schools | $5,541 (2018–19 projected)

28. Mississippi’s Nate Rogers Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program (60)
Voucher | 59% of average per-pupil spending in Mississippi public schools | $4,985

29. Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia Program (24)
Voucher | 59% of average per-pupil spending in Mississippi public schools | $4,985

30. Louisiana Scholarship Program (26)
Voucher | 56% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $6,192

31. South Carolina’s Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children (28)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 51% of average per-pupil spending in South Carolina public schools | $4,973

32. Louisiana’s Elementary and Secondary School Tuition Deduction (36)
Individual Tax Deduction | 49% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $5,448

33. North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarships (29)
Voucher | 48% of average per-pupil spending in North Carolina public schools | $4,062 (2018–19 projected)

34. District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarship Program (27)
Voucher | 46% of average per-pupil spending in D.C. public schools | $9,545

35. Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program (30)
Voucher | 46% of average per-pupil spending in Indiana public schools | $4,342

36. Wisconsin’s K–12 Private School Tuition Deduction (31)
Individual Tax Deduction | 42% of average per-pupil spending in Wisconsin public schools | $4,839

37. Ohio’s Cleveland Scholarship Program (33)
Voucher | 41% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $4,863

38. Ohio’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program (34)
Voucher | 41% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $4,761

39. Kansas’s Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program (42)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 39% of average per-pupil spending in Kansas public schools | $4,058

40. Louisiana’s Tuition Donation Credit Program (35)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 37% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $4,148

41. Georgia’s Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit (32)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 36% of average per-pupil spending in Georgia public schools | $3,454

42. Ohio’s Income-Based Scholarship Program (37)
Voucher | 35% of average per-pupil spending in Ohio public schools | $4,096

43. Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 Parent-Taxpayer Refundable Tax Credits (40)
Individual Tax Credit | 31% of average per-pupil spending in Alabama public schools | $2,814

44. Arizona’s Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program (38)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 29% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $2,165

45. Virginia’s Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program (39)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 28% of average per-pupil spending in Virginia public schools | $3,134

46. Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarships (44)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 25% of average per-pupil spending in Oklahoma public schools | $1,980

47. Arizona’s Original Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program (43)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 23% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $1,724

48. Louisiana’s School Choice Program for Certain Students with Exceptionalities (45)
Voucher | 23% of average per-pupil spending in Louisiana public schools | $2,500

49. Indiana’s School Scholarship Tax Credit (46)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 22% of average per-pupil spending in Indiana public schools | $2,108

50. Rhode Island’s Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations (41)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 22% of average per-pupil spending in Rhode Island public schools | $3,416

51. Indiana’s Private School/Homeschool Deduction (47)
Individual Tax Deduction | 19% of average per-pupil spending in Indiana public schools | $1,804

52. Arizona’s “Switcher” Individual Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program (48)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 18% of average per-pupil spending in Arizona public schools | $1,360

53. Pennsylvania’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program (49)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 17% of average per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania public schools | $2,420

54. Maryland’s Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program (50)
Voucher | 16% of average per-pupil spending in Maryland public schools | $2,294

55. Iowa’s School Tuition Organization Tax Credit (52)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 15% of average per-pupil spending in Iowa public schools | $1,645

56. New Hampshire’s Education Tax Credit Program (51)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 15% of average per-pupil spending in New Hampshire public schools | $2,247

57. Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (53)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 12% of average per-pupil spending in Pennsylvania public schools | $1,659

58. Minnesota’s Education Deduction (54)
Individual Tax Deduction | 10% of average per-pupil spending in Minnesota public schools | $1,145

59. South Dakota’s Partners in Education Tax Credit Program (55)
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 7% of average per-pupil spending in South Dakota public schools | $603

60. Montana’s Tax Credits for Contributions to Student Scholarship Organizations (56)*
Tax-Credit Scholarship | 5% of average per-pupil spending in Montana public schools | $500

*A December decision from the Montana Supreme Court rendered this program inoperable; however, proponents of the program are attempting to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

61. Minnesota’s K–12 Education Credit (59)
Individual Tax Credit | 2% of average per-pupil spending in Minnesota public schools | $254

62. Illinois’s Tax Credits for Educational Expenses (59)
Individual Tax Credit | 2% of average per-pupil spending in Illinois public schools | $254

63. Iowa’s Tuition and Textbook Tax Credit (59)
Individual Tax Credit | 1% of average per-pupil spending in Iowa public schools | $130

Not ranked (new) programs:
– New Hampshire Town Tuitioning Program
– Puerto Rico Free School Selection Program

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