Wisconsin’s Special Needs Scholarship Program, enacted in 2015, is the state’s fourth school voucher program. This program was launched for families to use in the 2016–17 school year. Learn more about the program’s details, including eligibility, funding, regulations, and more, on this page.
One of 18 private school choice programs exclusively for students with special needs nationwide
1,058 participating students (Fall 2019)
97 participating schools (Fall 2019)
13 percent of students eligible statewide
Average voucher value: $11,719 (2018–19)
Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 102 percent
Wisconsin began providing vouchers designated specifically for students with disabilities to attend private school in the 2016–17 school year.
For 2019–20, the maximum voucher amount is $12,723. Annually, voucher payments increase by the dollar amount equal to the dollar amount increase in general school aid to Wisconsin public schools.
Participating students must have an active Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Students may continue participating in the program as long as they have an IEP and attend an eligible school until they turn 21 or graduate high school, whichever comes first.
Vouchers designed specifically for children with special needs have proven to be very beneficial for the children they serve. Wisconsin’s program has a generous funding level, although consideration should be given to increasing funding for those whose needs demand greater expenditures. The legislature’s decision in 2017 to remove the requirement that a child must first be rejected by one or more public schools before
being allowed to access a voucher to attend the school of the parent and child’s choice removes the most restrictive component of this program.
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.
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