One Million Students in School Choice Programs, By the Numbers

In 2024, we’ve reached a major milestone for school choice. Over 1 million students now participate in a K–12 private school choice program across the United States. EdChoice has kept track of every private school choice program in the country since our founding in 1996—when only around 10,000 kids participated in school choice programs, in limited areas of Wisconsin, Vermont, and Maine.

Let’s break down those numbers.

Today, there are 75 school choice programs operating in 33 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. According to the most recent data available, we estimate that 323,278 students use school vouchers, 225,549 students use tax-credit scholarships, and 18,859 students use refundable tax credits. But by far, the driving force behind the recent push over the 1 million marker comes from a relatively new school choice option: education savings accounts (ESAs). Almost half a million students (470,801) participate in an ESA or tax-credit ESA. Just five years ago, only 19,211 students were using an ESA—and the first tax-credit ESA was only established in 2022.

School choice has nearly doubled in recent years. For reference, approximately 540,545 students were participating in a private school choice program in 2019. Five years later, participation has crossed the 1 million threshold. And for the first time in the history of the movement, this growth is being driven by universal choice programs—programs that are available to every, or nearly every, K–12 student in the state.

The “universal” choice program was first implemented in this decade. In 2019, there were no universal school choice programs in the United States. West Virginia enacted the Hope Scholarship Program in 2021, an education savings account available to 93% of students in the state (100% in 2026). In 2022, Arizona changed their Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to a universal ESA model. These universal programs have paved the way for other states to follow suit, and reinvented the blueprint of what school choice can look like.

Now, 10 states have currently operating universal school choice programs: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia. Since the beginning of 2024, Alabama has signed a new ESA program into law, with Louisiana soon to follow—both set to become universal in a few years. These expansive programs, in addition to being the new face of school choice, are driving the rapid growth of participation in programs.

In short, school choice programs are more accessible than ever before. Nearly 22 million students, or 40%, now have access to a private school choice program in their state. It should not come as a surprise that we’ve hit such a notable milestone right on the heels of universal school choice programs taking off. With a number of states recently expanding educational options, it seems likely participation numbers will continue to accelerate. As always, EdChoice will continue to track the most recent information on school choice programs across the country and report the latest numbers.

Note: This article uses data from The ABCs of School Choice, 2024 edition. Since publication, we have continued to use the data sources for program profiles listed in the ABCs to update the following states’ school choice program participation counts: Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia.