Puerto Rico

Free School Selection Program

  • Voucher
  • Enacted 2018
  • Launched 2019

This is Puerto Rico’s first school choice program. The Free School Selection Program allows students who have been enrolled in either traditional public or charter schools for at least two years a voucher to attend the private or public school of their choice. Gifted students may also use the program to take courses at local universities. Learn more about Puerto Rico’s school voucher program on this page, including student eligibility, funding, regulations and more.

We do not administer this program.

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  • 878

    Participating Students (Spring 2021)

  • 65

    Participating Schools (2019–20)

  • 62%

    of Students Eligible Territory-wide

  • $2,275

    Average Voucher Value (2020–21 projected)

  • 37%

    Average Voucher Value as a Percentage of Territory’s Public School Per-student Spending

Participation in the Puerto Rico Free School Selection Program

Students Participating
School Year Ending

Student Funding

The maximum amount for private school vouchers is set at 80 percent of the island’s baseline per-pupil funding amount. Puerto Rico Department of Education can set specific funding amounts depending on a student’s status. No more than two percent of the program’s funding may be used for administrative purposes.

(Last updated December 18, 2023)  

Student Eligibility

Students in grades 2-12 who have been enrolled in a public district or charter school for at least two years and are enrolled in a public school the semester immediately before applying are eligible for vouchers. The department of education prioritizes vouchers for low-income families (defined as qualifying for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, or earning $55,500 for a family of four in 2023-24), students with severe disabilities, gifted students, students who have been adopted or are in shelters or foster homes, and victims of bullying or sexual harassment. When determining students to accept, the department of education uses a lottery weighted by these priorities.

The program’s total enrollment is capped at three percent of Puerto Rico’s total student population in 2022-23, which is about 7,800 students. The secretary of education has the discretion to lower the rate prior to a given school year, though.

(Last updated December 18, 2023)

EdChoice Expert Feedback

Puerto Rico’s Free School Selection voucher program helps hundreds of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do more to expand educational opportunity.

Eligibility for the scholarships is limited to students in grades 2-12 who have attended a public school for at least two years. More than six in 10 Puerto Rico students are eligible for a scholarship. However, the total number of scholarships available is capped at three percent of the island’s total K-12 student population.

The average scholarship size is about $2,300, which is only about 37 percent of the average expenditure per student at Puerto Rico’s public schools.

To expand access to educational choice, Puerto Rico policymakers should dramatically increase the available vouchers and expand eligibility to all students (prioritizing scholarships based on need). They should also eliminate the requirement that students first attend a district or charter school to be eligible, or at least reduce the two-year minimum to one year. Students should not have to spend longer than necessary in an environment that does not meet their needs before gaining access to a voucher to attend a school that is a better fit. 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.

(Last updated December 18, 2023)

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Yes
  • Geographic Limit: Territory-wide
  • Enrollment Cap: 3 percent of total student population
  • Voucher Cap: 80 percent of per-pupil funding ($4,480 in 2020–21)
  • Testing Mandates: None
  • Budget Cap: None

School Requirements

  • Be accredited by an approved accreditor
  • Maintain a committee with a social worker to combat bullying and sexual harassment
  • Provide documentation to department of education that voucher students are demonstrating satisfactory academic progress
  • Administer a national standardized assessment chosen from those maintained by the department of education if requested by participating families
  • Schools and others committing fraud with vouchers are subject to fines and sentencing

(Last updated December 18, 2023)

Governing Statutes

3 LPRA § 9814a-h

(Last updated December 18, 2023)