A Survey of NonPublic School Aid Programs in the United States

Posted on July 7, 2016 In Life Issues, Policy Papers


A Survey of NonPublic School Aid Programs in the United States

Florida Tax Credit: A Tax-Credit Scholarship Program

The Florida Tax Credit allows corporations that donate to one of two “Scholarship Granting Organizations” to receive a tax refund for 100% of the donated amount. In the 2015-2016 school year, 77,079 students attending 1,540 private schools received scholarships averaging $5,677 per child.

The the size of the program is limited – only $447 million tax credits can be issued in 2016 – but the limit automatically increases by 25% each year that limit is reached. As a result of this automatic growth mechanism, Florida’s tax credit scholarship program is one of the largest school choice programs in the country.

Only students with a family income of less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Level ($44,955 for a family of four) can receive scholarships. This limit will increase to 260% of the Federal Poverty Level ($63,180 for a family of four) in 2017. The scholarships awarded to students cannot exceed 80% of the state’s per pupil funding for public school students. Students in grades 3-10 must take a standardized test every year and the results must be reported to parents and the state Department of Education.

16 other States have Tax-Credit Scholarship programs, including: Pennsylvania ($110 million); Arizona ($123 million); Georgia ($58 million).

Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Program: An Education Savings Account Program.

Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Program gives students who opt out of the public school system a bank account with money for private school tuition, a tutor, or a homeschool program.

Students who participate receive access to an Education Savings Account and every year the state deposits money to the account. The state deposits 90% of funds that would have been spent on the student if he or she had attended public school. In the 2015-2016 school year, 2,505 students received ESAs and the average ESA contained approximately $11,000.
Parents can spend ESA money on approved education expenses, including private school tuition and educational materials. After graduating from high school, students can spend any leftover money on college tuition.

Only students currently enrolled in a public school are eligible for an Education Savings Account. Students must also attend a failing public school or receive a state disability-related scholarship or be a foster child or live on an Indian reservation.

4 other states have Education Savings Account programs, including: Florida (4,080 ESAs); Mississippi (286 ESAs); Nevada (New Program); Tennessee (New Program).

New York Mandated Services Reimbursement: A Mandate Reimbursement Program.

New York State’s Mandated Services Reimbursement program repays private schools for the costs of complying with various state mandates – such as tracking the vaccine status of students, administering state tests, and reporting student attendance data. In 2016, New York appropriated $204 million to reimburse private schools for the cost of complying with state mandates.

In order to get reimbursed, private schools must track the staff time spent on complying with these mandates throughout the year. Schools then submit reimbursement request forms to the state and the Department of Education reimburses schools for the actual costs they incurred complying with state mandates.

Several other states have a Mandate Reimbursement program, including: Ohio ($62 million); Michigan ($2.5 million).

Maryland Textbook Loan Program: A Materials Loan Program.

The Maryland Textbook Loan program lends textbooks, technology hardware, and software to private schools while the state maintains actual ownership of the lent items. The state will only purchase materials that are secular and acceptable for use in a public school, and the schools must must return materials to the state at the end of their useful lives.

Every year, each private school tells the state which textbooks, hardware, or software its students need and the state spends up to $60 per student to meet that school’s needs. The state spends up to $90 per student for private schools where more than a fifth of students have family incomes less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Level ($44,955 for a family of four). Maryland budgeted $6 million for this program in the 2016-2017 school year.

Several other states have Materials Loan programs, including: New York ($90 per student); New Jersey ($73 per student); Nebraska ($9 per student).

Pennsylvania Private School Busing Program: A Private School Transportation Program.

Any school district that provides transportation to public school students must provide comparable transportation to private school students. This only applies to students who attend a private school within 10 miles of their resident school district’s boundaries. The state pays school districts $385 per student to school districts for each private school student that the district transports.
Most school districts uses buses to transport both private and public school students.

Several other states have Private School Transportation programs, including: New York; New Jersey; Iowa; Michigan.

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program: A Voucher Program.

Wisconsin’s Milwaukee Parental Choice program allows eligible parents to send their children to a participating private school and have the state and local governments pay the cost of tuition. The program provides 27,619 students in 117 Milwaukee private schools with vouchers worth an average of $7,366.

All Milwaukee students whose family income is less than 300% of the Federal Poverty Level ($73,401 for a family of four) can obtain a voucher. Any student who received a voucher in the previous year is also eligible for the program, even if his or her family income increases to above 300% of the Federal Poverty Level.

The program heavily regulates private schools that accept voucher students. Among other requirements, participating private schools: Must accept all voucher students who apply and use a lottery is used when the school is oversubscribed; Must allow students to opt out of any religious activities; Must administer state standardized tests to voucher recipients; and Can only charge tuition to high school students whose family income is more than 220% of the Federal Poverty Level ($53,826 for a family of four).

A series of 22 studies commissioned by the Wisconsin legislature found that the program saves the state $52 million annually, has improved the performance of Milwaukee public schools, and increases voucher recipients’ chances of attending college by 20%.

11 other states have Voucher programs, including: Ohio (45,379 students); Indiana (32,686 students); Florida (31,173 students); Louisiana (7,110 students); Maine (5,559 students).