Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program, the nation’s only private school choice program designed only for students with autism, was enacted in 2003 and launched in 2004. The program offers vouchers of up to $27,000 to students with autism who receive private educational services, including private schooling. Learn more about the program, including its funding, eligibility, and regulations, on this page.
America’s only private school choice program open only to students with autism
3,522 participating students (2016–17)
1 percent of students eligible statewide
290 participating service providers (2016–17)
Average voucher value: $22,748 (2016–17)
Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 195 percent
Ohio students on the autism spectrum may receive vouchers for education services from a private provider, including tuition at a private school.
The state will compensate a student’s parents or custodian for education services up to $27,000 per year. A child must be in the program for a full academic year to claim this amount. Parents are responsible for covering any costs in addition to the maximum amount allowed per year.
Students must be ages 3 to 21, diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, registered in a public school special education system and have a current IEP. Students may use the voucher whether or not they were enrolled previously in public schools, though students not previously enrolled in public schools must formally transfer into the public system (they do not need to actually leave their private schools).
Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program is very similar to Mississippi’s Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship in that it is limited to a small percentage of students with special needs, although it is encouraging to see the legislature increased the maximum funding per student per year from $20,000 to up to $27,000. The program could improve the regulations it places on participating schools: Schools must have employees with appropriate state credentials, provide quarterly reports to the school district showing academic progress, be in operation for at least one year and provide academic reports to parents and the child’s resident public school. For those reasons, Ohio’s Autism Scholarship potentially could serve more if it placed fewer regulations on schools and service providers.
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.