The number of students enrolled in Indiana’s voucher program increased by 47 percent this year, with fewer students having previously attended public school.
This comes from the Department of Education’s Choice Scholarship Program Annual Report released Monday.
The report shows a rapid increase in the number of students and schools participating in the choice scholarship program. Take a look at the number of students receiving scholarships starting with the 2011-12 school year, the first year Indiana offered them:
2011-12: 3,911 students
2012-13: 9,139 students
2013-14: 19,809 students
2014-15: 29,148 students
The eligibility requirements to receive a scholarship expanded each year, which could contribute to the increase in numbers. When the program started in 2011, students could meet one of two criteria to qualify. Now, there are seven:
1. Two semesters in a public school (student’s family incomes is at or below 150% of federal poverty line).
2. Student received another type of scholarship previously (also must meet poverty line requirement).
3. Previously received a voucher from the State (enacted during 2012-2013 school year).
4. Wants to continue receiving voucher.
5. Student requires special education (family income must be at or below 200% of requirement to qualify for free/reduced lunch).
6. Student would otherwise attend an “F” rated public school (family income at or below 150% of free/reduced lunch requirement).
7. Sibling of current voucher recipient may get a scholarship (family income at or below 150% of free/reduced lunch requirement).
One of the biggest takeaways from this year’s report is more and more students receiving a voucher to attend a private school never attended a public school. This makes sense, since the majority of students receiving vouchers are in early elementary school. Looking at the graph below, you can see when the voucher program first started, most of the students receiving a scholarship previously attended public school, but nowadays, it’s a coin flip.
The state allocated more than $115 million to vouchers for the 2014-2015 school year.