Choice Scholarship Program
- Enacted 2011
- Launched 2011
Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program allows students in low- and middle-income families to receive vouchers to attend private schools. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.
We do not administer this program.
Participating Students (2020-21)
of Families Income-eligible Statewide
Participating Schools (2020-21)
Average Voucher Value (2020-21)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program Participation
Vouchers are worth up to 90 percent of the state per-student spending amount for the sending school district.. Families can supplement vouchers with additional funds. Students eligible to receive district-allocated special education funds are now eligible to use those funds for special education services at a voucher-accepting school.
Children must be between ages five and 22 to receive a Choice Scholarship. In addition to this age requirement, there are seven additional eligibility pathways which, if any one is met, qualifies a student for a voucher. These are: (1) students who have received a Choice Scholarship the previous year and are from families that earn up to (but not exceeding) 300 percent of FRL ($154,013 for a family of four in 2022-23), (2) students who are prior Choice Scholarship recipients from families that earn up to (but not exceeding) 300 percent of FRL and (a) received the voucher two or more years prior to applying or (b) received the voucher in the immediately preceding school year but exited the program prior to the end of the school year, (3) students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and are from families that earn up to 300 percent of FRL, (4) students who attended or would attend a public school designated F and who are from families that earn up to (but not exceeding) 300 percent of FRL, (5) students who attended a public school (including a charter school) for the preceding two semesters and who are from families that earn up to 300 percent of FRL, (6) students or siblings of students who previously received a voucher or a tax-credit scholarship and who are from families that earn up to 300 percent of FRL, and (7) students who used an Early Education Grant to attend prekindergarten at an eligible Choice Scholarship school in which they intend to enroll for kindergarten and are from families that earn up to (but not exceeding) 300 percent of FRL.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Indiana’s voucher program for students helps tens of thousands of disadvantaged students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do much more to expand educational opportunity.
Eligibility for the vouchers is limited to a variety of low- and middle-income and disadvantaged students. About 80 percent of Indiana’s students are eligible for a scholarship. Less than 10 percent of students statewide actually participate in one of Indiana’s private educational choice options (including the School Scholarship Tax Credit and the Education Scholarship Account Program).
The average voucher value is about $4,781, which is about 46 percent of the average expenditure per student at Indiana’s district schools.
In order to expand access to educational choice, Indiana policymakers should expand eligibility to all students. The program could also be converted into an education savings account to ensure that all students have access to the education that’s the right fit for them, whether private school or a customized course of education.
Indiana’s voucher program imposes some unnecessary and counterproductive regulations. For example, the program requires voucher students to take the state’s standardized test. Instead of mandating a single test, policymakers should allow parents and schools to choose from a variety of nationally norm-referenced tests.
Rules and Regulations
- Income Limit: 300 percent x FRL
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: Yes, with exceptions
- Geographic Limit: Statewide
- Enrollment Cap: None
- Voucher Cap: 90% of State Expenditure
- Testing Mandates: State test
- Be accredited by either the state board or a national or regional accreditation agency that is recognized by the state board
- Comply with health and safety codes
- Must not discriminate on basis of race, color or national origin
- Conduct criminal background checks on employees
- Administer the Indiana state test and report to the state data for A–F ratings, including state assessment scores and graduation rates
- Must grant the state full access to its premises for observing classroom instruction and reviewing any instructional materials and curriculum
- Provide civic and character education and display related historical documents
On March 26, 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in Meredith v. Pence, a landmark 5-0 decision, that the Choice Scholarship Program does not violate the state constitution and that constitutional prohibitions against government funding of religious entities does not apply to entities providing primary and secondary education. The case began July 1, 2011, when teachers’ union officials and others challenged Indiana’s voucher program in state court, alleging the Indiana Constitution prohibits funding of religious schools. In Meredith v. Daniels, 49D07-1107-PL-025402 (2012) a Marion County Superior Court denied a motion for preliminary injunction, then granted summary judgment January 13, 2012, in favor of the program.
On direct appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, the justices opined, “First, the voucher program expenditures do not directly benefit religious schools but rather directly benefit lower-income families with school-children by providing an opportunity for such children to attend non-public schools if desired. Second, the prohibition against government expenditures to benefit religious or theological institutions does not apply to institutions and programs providing primary and secondary education.” Meredith v. Pence, 984 N.E.2d 1213 (Ind. 2013)