Autism Scholarship Program
- Enacted 2003
- Launched 2004
Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program allows Ohio students on the autism spectrum to receive vouchers up to $27,000 for education services from a private provider, including tuition at a private school. Learn more about the program, including its funding, eligibility and regulations, on this page.
We do not administer this program.
Participating Students (Spring 2021)
of Students Eligible Statewide
Participating Service Providers (Fall 2020)
Average Voucher Value (2020-21)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program Participation
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. If transportation is listed on the IEP as a related service, the parent may obtain transportation from a registered private provider that is approved by the state to provide such transportation and claim it for reimbursement through the Autism Scholarship program. 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 for IEP purposes. (They do not need to leave their private schools.)
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Ohio’s Autism Scholarship Program helps thousands of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do much more to expand educational opportunity.
Eligibility for the vouchers is limited to students ages 3 to 21 who have an IEP and have been diagnosed with autism. Only 1 percent of Ohio’s students are eligible for a scholarship and only 2.5 percent of students statewide actually use one of Ohio’s five educational choice programs (including the Cleveland Scholarship Program, the Educational Choice Scholarship Program, the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program, and the Income-Based Scholarship Program).
The average voucher value is about $23,000 and may be worth up to $27,000 annually.
In order to expand access to educational choice, Ohio policymakers should expand eligibility to all students statewide. 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.
Ohio’s voucher program generally avoids unnecessary and counterproductive regulations.
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
- 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
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.
Autism Scholarship Program State Groups
That Support School Choice
School Choice Ohio works to ensure that families across the state know about the education options available for their children. They also advocate for the expansion of quality options for every child.