The Kansas Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program—a tax-credit scholarship program—was enacted in 2014 and launched in 2015, making it Kansas’s first school choice program. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations and more.
Kansas’s first private school choice program
Limited to low-income families in “lowest-performing” public schools
369 students participating (2018–19)
7 percent of students eligible statewide
9 participating scholarship organizations (2018–19)
114 participating schools (2018–19)
Average scholarship value: $4,058 (2018–19)
Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 37 percent
Kansas offers tax credits to individuals and businesses supporting Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships to low-income students in the 100 lowest-performing public schools as defined by the state.
Each SGO determines the amount of the scholarships it distributes, but no scholarship amount can exceed the cost of tuition, fees, expenses and transportation by a qualified school. The maximum scholarship amount is $8,000.
Children are eligible to receive scholarships if their family income does not exceed 100 percent of the guidelines needed to qualify for the free lunch program ($33,475 for a family of four in 2019–20). They also must be assigned to one of Kansas’s 100 lowest-performing schools as defined by the state’s board of education. Children must be between ages 5 and 21 to participate. In addition, children must have been enrolled in any public school the previous school year, unless the child is younger than 6.
Kansas’s tax-credit scholarship program’s $8,000 maximum scholarship amount is high enough to provide even the poorest families with access to almost all private schools in Kansas, yet it provides enough flexibility for each SGO to determine the needs of their individual students. The program also avoids unnecessary regulations on private schools. However, the legislature should expand eligibility requirements to serve more students. By removing the “lowest-performing schools” requirement, this program would be simpler for parents to ascertain eligibility and for private schools to effectively reach students. Second, any increase in the income requirement would exponentially expand the program to even more families. A simple extension of families up to 185 percent of the federal poverty limit or even higher would make scholarships available to an even greater number of low-income families.
K.S.A. §§ 72-453 through 457
No legal challenges have been filed against this program.
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