Voucher program will have highest income eligibility of any means-tested program in the country
INDIANAPOLIS—EdChoice, a national nonprofit organization that promotes state-based educational choice programs, applauded Indiana lawmakers and Gov. Eric Holcomb for expanding educational choice.
Today, Holcomb signed the two-year state budget, which included an unprecedented expansion of Indiana’s voucher program and a brand-new education savings account or ESA program to serve students with special needs. It also included an expansion of the state’s tax-credit scholarship program.
The budget passed the Indiana House on April 22 by a vote of 96-2 and the Indiana Senate by a vote of 46-3.
“Indiana has led the way on school choice for more than a decade, and this will ensure that tens of thousands more Hoosier families have access to the schooling options that work best for their students,” said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of EdChoice, which is located in Indianapolis and advocates for universal school choice programs nationally.
Roughly 80 percent of Hoosier families—around one million students—will be eligible for the voucher program, and they will receive 90 percent of the state’s per-pupil funding to attend a voucher-accepting school of their choice.
“Governor Holcomb’s signing of the biennial budget keeps Indiana at the forefront of educational choice policy nationally and is the result of a lot of hard work and collaboration,” said Betsy Wiley, President of the Institute for Quality Education. “Robert Enlow and EdChoice are tremendous leaders and partners with whom we were honored to work together 10 years ago when Indiana passed its voucher law—and remain honored to work with today as we pass a major expansion to the voucher program and establish and ESA program. Our shared mission is to ensure that every Hoosier child has access to—and receives—a quality education.”
Details of the Indiana expansion and new ESA program:
NEW ESA PROGRAM
The new education savings account program for special needs students will be funded at 90 percent of regular per-pupil funding, and students will be able to access all of their special needs funding.
The income requirement for the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program will increase from 150 percent of free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) to 300 percent, and there will be a new pathway for foster care students. This will make almost 80 percent of Indiana families—nearly one million students—eligible for the program. The Indiana voucher program will have the highest income eligibility of any means-tested program in the country. Perhaps more noteworthy is that all scholarship families will receive a scholarship worth 90 percent of their per-pupil funding. Previously, students were funded at either 50, 70 or 90 percent based on their family income.
TAX-CREDIT SCHOLARSHIP EXPANSION
Income eligibility for Indiana’s tax-credit scholarship program will increase to 300 percent of FRL, and the tax cap will increase to $17.5 million next year and $18.5 million in 2023.