Income-Based Scholarship Program
- Enacted 2013
- Launched 2013
Ohio’s Income-Based Scholarship Program allows income-qualified students to receive vouchers to attend private schools, provided they are not eligible for Ohio’s other school voucher programs. This is an expansion of Ohio’s “EdChoice” voucher program. All income-qualified K–12 students became eligible starting in the 2020–21 school year. Continue reading to learn more about this program’s funding, eligibility, regulations, governing statutes and more.
We do not administer this program.
Participating Students (2020–21)
of Families with Children Income-eligible Statewide
Participating Schools (2020–21)
Average Voucher Value (2019–20)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Ohio’s Income-Based Scholarship Program Participation
Vouchers are worth up to $5,500 for students in K–8 and $7,500 for high school students, not to exceed the private school’s actual tuition and fees. Families may receive 75 percent ($4 K–8, $5,625 9–12) and 50 percent ($2,750 K–8 , $3,750 9–12) vouchers if they are renewing their child’s Income-Based Scholarship and earn up to 300 percent and 400 percent, respectively, of the federal poverty level.
For the 2021–22 school year, students are eligible if they are from families with income no more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level ($69,375 for a family of four in 2021–22). Those at or below this income level are eligible for maximum vouchers when they first apply and renew their vouchers. All income-qualified K–12 students became eligible starting in the 2020–21 school year. Only students from low-income families who do not qualify for the Educational Choice Scholarship Program are eligible.
Once they receive a voucher, a student is eligible in future years, unless their family income exceeds 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Those who renew their Income-Based Scholarship may earn between 250 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($83,250 for a family of four in 2021–22) to receive a 75-percent voucher. Those who renew their scholarship may earn between 300 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($111,000 for a family of four in 2021–22) to receive a 50 percent voucher.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Ohio’s Income-Based 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 initially limited to 250 percent of the federal poverty line. Four in ten of Ohio’s students are eligible for a scholarship and less than 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 Educational Choice Scholarship Program and the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program).
The average voucher value is about $4,150, which is about 31 percent of the average expenditure per student at Ohio’s district schools, but the cap on voucher values is somewhat higher ($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: 250 percent x Poverty (up to 400 percent for renewals)
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
- Geographic Limit: Statewide
- Enrollment Cap: None Voucher Cap: $5,500 (K–8) / $7,500 (9–12)
- Testing Mandates: Nationally norm-referenced tests
- Be chartered by the state
- Meet state standards for chartered nonpublic schools
- Comply with state laws regarding nondiscrimination and health and safety codes
- Administer background checks on teachers and staff that work with children must
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.
Income-Based 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.