Indiana - Choice Scholarship Program
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Indiana – Choice Scholarship Program

Indiana – Choice Scholarship Program

Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program was enacted and launched in 2011 and is now one of America’s largest school voucher programs. It is currently available to low- and middle-income families. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.

Program Fast Facts

  • 36, 290  participating students (2018–19)

  • 50 percent of students eligible statewide

  • 329 participating schools (2018–19)

  • Average voucher value: $4,449 (2018–19)

  • Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 47 percent

Program Details

Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program Participation

Students Participating
School Year Ending

Click the + symbols to learn more about this program’s details.

Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program allows students in lower-income families to receive vouchers to attend private schools.

Student Funding

Students from families that qualified for the federal free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) program can receive a voucher worth up to 90 percent of the state per-student spending amount for the sending school district. Students from families that earn 150 percent of that same threshold can receive a voucher worth up to 50 percent of the state funding allocation for the sending district. Families can supplement vouchers with additional funds. Students eligible to receive special education funds are now eligible to use those funds for special education services at a voucher-accepting school.

Student Eligibility

Children must be between ages 5 and 22 to receive a Choice Scholarship. In addition to this age requirement, there are eight 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) 200 percent of FRL ($92,870 for a family of four in 2018–19), (2) students who are prior Choice Scholarship recipients from families that earn up to (but not exceeding) 150 percent of FRL ($69,652 for a family of four in 2018–19) 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 who previously received a School Scholarship Tax Credit award and are from families that earn up to 150 percent of FRL, (4) students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and are from families that earn up to 200 percent of FRL, (5) students who attended or would attend a public school designated F and who are from families that earn up to (but not exceeding) 150 percent of FRL, (6) students who attended a public school (including a charter school) for the preceding two semesters and who are from families that earn up to 150 percent of FRL, (7) students or siblings of students who previously received a voucher or a tax-credit scholarship and who are from families that earn up to 150 percent of FRL, and (8) 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) 69 percent of FRL ($32,040 in 2018–19).

EdChoice Expert Feedback

Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program is the largest statewide voucher program in the country. Still, the program is lacking in some areas. The average voucher amount is below half of what district school students receive. Also, the income eligibility level is too low for many families to participate. Lastly, participating private schools are required to administer the state test and allow the state to review classroom instruction, instructional materials and curriculum. The program has ample room to grow by providing parents with increased funding and eligibility and eliminating unnecessary regulations on private schools.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: 150 percent x FRL
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Conditional
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Voucher Cap: 90% of State Expenditure
  • Testing Mandates: State


School Requirements:

  • 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 ISTEP scores and graduation rates
    • To remain eligible to accept new scholarship students, a school must not be rated as D or F for two or more consecutive years
      • Schools which fall under this category may appeal to the State Board of Education to demonstrate academic improvement during the preceding school year
    • 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

Governing Statutes

Ind. Code §§ 20-51-1 through 4

Legal History

On March 26, 2013, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in a 5-0 decision that the Choice Scholarship Program does not violate any provision of the state constitution. The case began on 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. A Marion County Superior Court judge denied a motion for preliminary injunction. The trial court granted summary judgment on January 13, 2012 in favor of the program. Meredith v Daniels, 49D07-1107-PL-025402 (2012).

After an expedited appeal was granted, the Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the program November 21, 2012. In deciding the case, the Court ruled, “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).

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