Ohio - Autism Scholarship Program

school choice

Ohio – Autism Scholarship Program

Ohio – Autism Scholarship Program

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.

Program Fast Facts

  • America’s only private school choice program open only to students with autism

  • 3,789 participating students (2018–19)

  • 1 percent of students eligible statewide

  • 265 participating service providers (2018–19)

  • Average voucher value: $22,996 (2017–18)

  • Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 196 percent

Program Details

Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program Participation

Students Participating
School Year Ending

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

Ohio students on the autism spectrum may receive vouchers for education services from a private provider, including tuition at a private school.

Student Funding

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.

Student Eligibility

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 for IEP purposes. (They do not need to leave their private schools.)

EdChoice Expert Feedback

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.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Voucher Cap: $27,000
  • Testing Mandates: None
  • *Limited to students with special needs

School Requirements:

  • Register with the state
  • Comply with state nondiscrimination codes
  • Demonstrate fiscal soundness
  • Have properly credentialed staff
  • Teachers and other staff working with children must undergo background checks
  • In operation at least one full year
  • Have adequate liability, property and casualty insurance certified by a certified public accountant
  • Provide regular student progress reports to parents and resident public school

Legal History

No legal challenges have been filed against the program.

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