Educational Choice Scholarship Program
- Enacted 2005
- Launched 2006
Ohio’s “EdChoice” scholarship program allows Ohio students who attend chronically low-performing public schools to receive vouchers that help them afford to attend private schools. Participating private schools are required to accept the voucher as full tuition for students whose families are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Learn more about this program’s funding, eligibility and regulations on this page.
We do not administer this program.
Participating Students (2020–21)
of Students Eligible Statewide
Participating Schools (2020–21)
Average Voucher Value (2019–20)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Ohio’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program Participation
Vouchers are worth up to $5,500 in grades K–8 and $7,500 in grades 9–12, not to exceed the private school’s actual tuition. Participating schools may charge remaining tuition or require in-kind services for the portion of tuition not covered by the voucher for students whose household incomes exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), but must accept the voucher as payment in full for students at or below 200 percent FPL.
Students are eligible for the program if the student’s resident district is not a school district in which the pilot project scholarship program is operating (Cleveland) and the student satisfies one of the following conditions: The student attends a local public school that has received a grade D or F by the state’s performance index score; the student is assigned to a charter school but would otherwise be assigned to a “low-performing” public school; the student attends a local public school that was ranked in the lowest 20 percent of public schools in the last two most recent rankings (or two of the three most recent rankings beginning in the 2024–25 school year) and the public school was not declared to be excellent or effective in the most recent rating system; the student is enrolled in a private school and is entering grades K–2 or high school but would otherwise attend a D- or F-rated public school; students who are in foster care or kinship care; or the student is enrolling in grades K–12 for the first time and would be assigned to a qualifying school as long as they are at least 5 years old by Jan. 1 of the school year. Additionally, students are eligible if they previously received an Autism or Jon Peterson Special Needs scholarships but no longer qualify for either of those scholarships because they no longer are in need of special education services. Finally, students are eligible to receive a scholarship if they are the sibling of a student who received a scholarship in the previous academic year.
Vouchers are prioritized for prior recipients and students whose family income is less than 200 percent FPL. The requirement that a student in grades K–8 first be enrolled in a public school to be eligible for a scholarship is being phased out. In 2021–22, students entering K–2 are exempt from the requirement. In 2022–23, students entering K–4 will be exempt. In 2023–24, students entering K–6 will be exempt. In 2024–25, students entering K–8 will be exempt.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Ohio’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program helps tens of 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 initially limited to students who attend low-performing schools. Only 29 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 Autism Scholarship Program, the Income-Based Scholarship Program, and the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program).
The average voucher value is about $4,750, which is about 34 percent of the average expenditure per student at Ohio’s district schools, and the cap on voucher values is $5,500 in grades K–8 and $7,500 in grades 9–12.
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: Phasing out. None for students entering K-2 in 2021-22.
- Geographic Limit: Statewide
- Enrollment Cap: None Voucher Cap: $5,500 (K–8) / $7,500 (9–12)
- Testing Mandates: National
- *Limited to students assigned to low-performing district schools
- Be chartered by the state
- Meet state standards for chartered nonpublic schools
- Comply with state laws regarding nondiscrimination and health and safety codes
- Teachers and staff working with children must undergo background checks
- Accept voucher as full amount for students from households earning 200 x Poverty or less
Citizens for Community Values, an organization of schools and parents in Ohio, plus other schools and parents, filed a lawsuit against the state on February 3, 2020, asking the Ohio Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus* to compel the state to accept scholarship applicants to its EdChoice voucher program, today. The state “delayed” program scholarship applications pending a decision by the state legislature on whether to allow a new law expanding eligibility for the program (for children in 517 schools to children in 1,227 schools) to be implemented. There is some dispute over whether, at the time the law was passed, the state legislature intended eligibility to double in size. Pending.
State ex rel. Citizens for Community Values v. Gov. Mike DeWine, Supreme Court of Ohio, Case No. 2020-0175.
Educational Choice 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.