School Choice Facts & Statistics

Our Fast Facts exhibit essential private school choice data in one place to make covering school choice issues faster and easier.

We compiled state-level information to provide a national snapshot of vital statistics from the five different types of private school choice programs. Learn more about those and EdChoice below.

Education savings accounts (ESAs) in K-12 education establish for parents a publicly funded, government-authorized savings account with restricted, but multiple uses for educational purposes. Parents may use the funds to pay for expenses including: school tuition, tutoring, online education programs, therapies for students with special needs, textbooks or other instructional materials, and sometimes, save for college.

States With ESA Programs

There are 18 ESA programs in 16 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida (2), Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee (2), Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Fast Facts on ESAs

  1. Estimated ESA recipients in states with operating programs: 328,741.
  2. ESAs gained national prominence in 2011, when Arizona created the nation’s first such program.
  3. Florida has the largest ESA program in terms of participation: 136,087 enrollees in 2023–24.
  4. Arizona, Florida, Utah, Arkansas, and Iowa have the most expansive ESA programs in terms of statewide eligibility: 100 percent of students.
  5. ESAs were essentially declared constitutional by the Arizona Supreme Court in 2014, when it deemed those challenging the program were unable to show harm.

(Last updated April 15, 2024.)

School vouchers give parents a portion of the public funding set aside for their children’s education to choose private schools. State funds typically expended by a school district are allocated to families in the form of a voucher to pay partial or full tuition at a private school, including religious and non-religious options.

States With School Voucher Programs

There are 25 voucher programs in 16 states—Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana (2), Maine, Maryland, Mississippi (2), New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio (5), Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin (4)—and Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Fast Facts on School Vouchers

  1. Estimated voucher recipients in states with operating programs: 265,759.
  2. Vouchers gained national prominence in 1990, with the creation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Two voucher programs existed prior to that (Vermont: 1869, Maine: 1873).
  3. Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program is the nation’s largest voucher program in terms of participation: 69,270 enrollees in 2023-24.
  4. Douglas County, Colorado, was home to the only voucher program created by a public school district. In 2017, a newly elected school board rescinded the program.
  5. Washington, D.C., has the only voucher program authorized by the U.S. Congress.
  6. Vouchers—specifically Ohio’s Cleveland Scholarship Program—were declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 (Zelman v. Simmons-Harris).

(Last updated April 15, 2024.)

Tax-credit ESAs allow taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to nonprofit organizations that fund and manage parent-directed K-12 education savings accounts. Families may use those funds to pay for multiple education-related expenses, including private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, higher education expenses and other approved customized learning services and materials, and roll over unused funds from year to year to save for future educational expenses. Some tax-credit ESAs, but not all, even allow students to use their funds to pay for a combination of public school courses and private services.

States With Tax-Credit ESAs

There are two tax-credit ESA programs in two states: Florida and Missouri.

Fast Facts on Tax-Credit ESAs

  1. Tax-credit ESAs are the newest type of private educational choice program.
  2. Kentucky enacted the first program of this kind in 2021: the Education Opportunity Account Program, which is now inoperable due to lingering litigation.
  3. In 2023, Florida converted its 22-year-old Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program from a tax-credit scholarship to a tax-credit ESA.
  4. Florida’s tax-credit ESA program is now the largest of its kind, serving more than 125,657 students (2023–24).

(Last updated April 15, 2024.)

Tax-credit scholarships allow taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. Eligible taxpayers can include both individuals and businesses. The amount of tax credits distributed is capped at an amount determined by the legislature, which, in turn, affects the availability and size of scholarships.

States With Tax-Credit Scholarships

There are 26 tax-credit scholarship programs in 22 states—Alabama, Arizona (4), Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia.

Fast Facts on Tax-Credit Scholarships

  1. Estimated tax-credit scholarship recipients in states with operating programs: 247,867.
  2. Tax-credit scholarships gained national prominence in 1997, when Arizona created the nation’s first such program (after its voucher program was declared unconstitutional).
  3. Pennsylvania has the largest tax-credit scholarship program in terms of participation: 54,241 enrollees.
  4. Arizona, Montana and Ohio have the most expansive tax-credit scholarship programs in terms of statewide eligibility: 100 percent of students.
  5. Tax-credit scholarships—specifically Arizona’s Corporate Tax Credits for School Tuition Organizations—were essentially declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 (Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn). The Supreme Court dismissed the case, ruling the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge the program.

(Last updated April 15, 2024.)

Through individual tax credits and deductions, parents can receive state income tax relief for approved educational expenses, which can include private school tuition, books, supplies, computers, tutors, and transportation. Tax credits lower the total taxes a person owes; a deduction reduces a person’s total taxable income.

States with K–12 Tax Credits & Deductions

There are 12 individual tax credit and deduction programs in 10 states—Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota (2), Ohio (2), Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Fast Facts on Individual K-12 Tax Credit & Deduction Programs Available

  1. Estimated number of tax returns claiming tax credits for educational expenses states with operating programs: more than 640,000.
  2. Tax credits for educational expenses, including private school tuition, were started in Iowa in 1987.
  3. Illinois has the largest tax credit program in terms of participation: 210,224 tax returns in 2022.
  4. Illinois’s, Oklahoma’s, Minnesota’s and Iowa’s credit/deduction programs are the nation’s largest in terms of eligibility: 100 percent of tax-paying families.
  5. South Carolina has the most generous tax credit, which is worth about $8,865 on average.
  6. Tax credits were declared constitutional in Illinois in 1999, after two lawsuits argued Illinois’s tax credit program violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and religion clauses of the Illinois Constitution. Illinois appellate courts upheld the programs and the Illinois Supreme Court refused to grant appeals (Toney v. Bower, Griffith v. Bower). Tax deductions were declared constitutional in 1983, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Minnesota’s tax deduction program (Mueller v. Allen).

About EdChoice

EdChoice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, dedicated to advancing educational freedom and choice for all as a pathway to successful lives and a stronger society.

Our Mission

Educate diverse audiences about school choice and its benefits.

EdChoice is a national leader in school choice research. We publish dozens of studies, surveys, legislative analyses and blog posts each year to help the public, the media and key stakeholders understand how school choice is affecting families and students across the United States and internationally. Our premise is simple: The more people know about and understand educational choice, the more they can help advance the movement.

Train supporters and policymakers to advocate for high-quality choice programs.

For too long, parents have been told to sit down, be quiet and let the professionals handle their kids. Policymakers have similarly been bullied by those who seek to protect and preserve an educational system that has chronically failed many of those who most depend on it as their pathway to a successful life. We offer a selection of trainings to help school choice supporters learn how to advocate for high-quality programs that put students first.

Engage in activities that generate results for students and families.

We know from experience that bringing new school choice programs to fruition takes a lot of hard work, and we know true educational choice faces long odds in places where allegiance to the past comes before serving students. That’s why we’re focused on engaging at the state level where it makes the most sense while supporting school choice efforts more broadly with our research, outreach and trainings.

Suggested Citation
“Fast Facts on School Choice,” EdChoice, last modified April 17, 2023, http://www.edchoice.org/school-choice/fast-facts/.