According to data just released by the Indiana Department of Education, the number of voucher applications submitted for the 2013-2014 school year totaled 20,047 as of the Sept. 1 deadline. More students are participating in the Choice Scholarship Program and the latest figures reflect the largest applicant pool in Indiana history.
“It’s encouraging to see so many Hoosier families taking advantage of this outstanding program,” said Betsy Wiley, president of School Choice Indiana. “This record number of applicants demonstrates the ongoing demand for choice, and we applaud Gov. Pence for signing the School Voucher Improvement Bill (HB 1003) into law earlier this year and giving more parents this important option.”
HB 1003 – which took effect on July 1 – expanded eligibility to more low- and middle-income families. Another provision gave families living in the area of a school labeled as D or F – by the State Board of Education – the opportunity to benefit from the voucher program too.
More than 9,300 students received Choice Scholarships during the 2012-2013 school year. Nearly, 4,000 students participated in the program during the 2011-2012 school year.
“The growth of this program is good news for Indiana families and students,” said Wiley. “While most kids are well served by their public school, we can’t deny that some families need different options. This program gives more parents the tools they need to make the best educational choices for their children.”
When parents receive a voucher, the state helps pay for tuition at a private school depending on the family’s income. Students qualifying for the federal free-and-reduced lunch program ($43,568 for a family of four) are eligible for a voucher worth up to 90 percent of the state tuition amount for the school district of residence. Children from families who earn up to 150 percent of the free-and-reduced lunch eligibility (around $65,352 for a family of four) can receive a scholarship for up to 50 percent of the state tuition amount.