Progress Being Made on School Voucher Program

by Staff on July 12, 2011 · 1 comment

in State

School BusThe heavily debated and criticized school voucher program is finally making progress, albeit slowly.

The Department of Education has recently released a parent application form that allows lower income families to apply for vouchers to schools that best fit their children’s needs. Participating schools are prepared to work with families on the applications, and more information the program and eligibility requirements is available at new web sites launched by the DOE and School Choice Indiana.

Interested families should contact the school of their choice directly in order to apply for participation and receive assistance with the application process. Schools will submit parent applications to the DOE electronically. To be awarded with a voucher for the upcoming school year, a student must be fully enrolled in a participating school no later than September 16th, 2011. Schools can keep their admissions standards but they cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin.

The list of participating schools will be updated regularly both on the DOE’s Web site as well as on a new program Web site that can be found at The site features information on the eligibility requirements and the application process for the voucher program. In addition to information on vouchers, the site also includes information on the Indiana Scholarship Tax Credit Program and tax deductions for parents with children enrolled in private schools.

“The Department of Education has been working very hard and diligently to develop the program rules and application forms,” said Luke Messer, President of School Choice Indiana. “We at School Choice Indiana are trying to assist the department in spreading the word about the program and sharing information with schools and parents through direct outreach and online resources.”

Children in grades 2-12 who attended a public school for the prior two semesters or those in grades 1-12 that received a scholarship from a certified scholarship granting organization in the previous year are eligible to apply for choice vouchers. Students qualifying for the federal free-and-reduced price lunch program ($41,348 for a family of four) can receive a scholarship for up to 90 percent of the state tuition amount for the sending school district. Children from families who earn up to 150 percent of the program (around $62,022 for a family of four) are eligible for a voucher worth up to 50 percent of the tuition amount. Income limits are higher for larger families and can be found at

“We are encouraged by the strong interest in the voucher program among Indiana schools and families who want to pursue enrollment in the school that meets their child’s needs,” said John Elcesser, Executive Director of the Indiana Non-Public Education Association.

This year the number of available vouchers is capped at 7,500 children. The DOE will process student applications on a first come, first served basis. No quotas will be assigned to any particular school or county. In the second year, the participation cap increases to 15,000 children. Limits on the number of vouchers will be removed in the third year of the program.

“Based on the national experience throughout the country, we don’t expect the demand to exceed the cap of 7,500 vouchers in the first year,” said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Foundation for Educational Choice. “We expect it to be a slow but steady growth as over time more and more eligible Hoosier families will realize what opportunities the school choice program opens for them.”

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