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 “failing” public schools
188 students participating (2016–17)
22 percent of students eligible statewide
7 participating scholarship organizations (2016–17)
90 participating schools (2016–17)
Average scholarship value: $1,693 (2016–17)
Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 17 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 “failing” public schools.
Each SGO determines the amount of the scholarships it distributes, but no scholarship amount can exceed $8,000 to cover tuition, fees, expenses and the costs of transportation by a qualified school.
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 ($31,980 for a family of four in 2017–18); they also must be assigned to one of the lowest 100 performing schools with respect to student achievement among all schools operated by school districts for the current school year. 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 fewer than 6 years of age.
Kansas’ 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. However, student eligibility needs to be improved. By removing the “failing 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 Kansans.
K.S.A. §§ 72-99a01(Supp) through 72-99a07 (Supp); 79-32,138 (Supp)
No legal challenges have been filed against this program.
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