Maine

Town Tuitioning Program

  • Voucher
  • Launched 1873

Maine’s Town Tuitioning Program is the second oldest school choice program in the nation. The program, launched in 1873, allows students from a town without a public school to attend either a public school in another town or a non-religious private school. On this page, you can learn more about the program details, funding, eligibility, legal history  and more.

We do not administer this program.

  • 4,368

    Participating Students (2020-2)

  • 2%

    of Students Eligible Statewide

  • 32

    Participating Schools (2020-21)

  • $9,526

    (K–8) Maximum Voucher Value (2019–20)

  • $11,948

    (9–12) Maximum Voucher Value (2019–20)

  • 73%

    Maximum Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending

Maine’s Town Tuitioning Program Participation

Students Participating
School Year Ending

Student Funding

Sending towns pay tuition directly to the receiving schools. Public schools in Maine have a tuition rate that sending towns must pay when their students are tuitioned at public schools. For private schools, the tuition rate for elementary students may not exceed the average per-pupil cost on a statewide basis. For secondary pupils, the tuition rate is Maine’s average per-pupil cost for secondary education in the previous year, plus an additional payment intended to cover depreciation of private schools’ buildings. Parents may supplement that voucher with their own money. Voucher values vary from county to county based on current per-student funding levels. Sending towns have the option of adding on to the voucher up to an amount worth as much as 115 percent of the per-student funding in total, but may not reduce the voucher below the state’s tuition rates.

Student Eligibility

Students must live in Maine and reside in an identified sending town that does not have a public school at their grade level. Although most towns allow parents to choose which schools will receive their students, some towns send all their students to one school.

EdChoice Expert Feedback

Maine’s town tuitioning program helps thousands of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do more to expand educational opportunity.

Eligibility is limited to students living in towns that do not operate public schools for student’s grade level, making it one of the most restrictive educational choice programs in the nation. Only 3 percent of Maine students are eligible to participate, the same percentage of students statewide actually do so. The maximum voucher size is about $9,500 for K–8 and $11,900 for high school, which is 73 percent of per-student spending at Maine’s district schools, though the amounts vary by county.

In order to expand access to educational choice, Maine 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.

Additionally, although Maine’s town tuitioning program mostly avoids unnecessary and counterproductive regulations, the program prohibits families from choosing to attend religious schools. This discriminatory policy violates the First Amendment and is currently the subject of litigation.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
  • Geographic Limit: District (without elementary or high school)
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Voucher Cap: $9,526 (K–8) / $11,948 (9–12)
  • Testing Mandates: Conditional (State)

School Requirements:

  • Meet the requirements for basic school approval
  • Be nonsectarian
  • Comply with reporting and auditing requirements
  • Participate in the statewide assessment program if enrolling 60 percent or more students under the Town Tuitioning Program
  • Release copies of all student records for students transferring from the private school to the school unit, upon the request of a school unit
  • Report annually to the commissioner any information they may require

Town Tuitioning Program State Groups

That Support School Choice

We don’t yet know of any Maine-based organizations that are fighting for more educational choice opportunities. If you know of one you’d like to submit to our team, please reach out to us at media@edchoice.org.