Indiana has long been one of the states with the most financial support for families who choose private school. Already, more than 44,000 students participate in the state’s Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers for private school tuition and fees. With a new state budget this year, Indiana has launched big changes that will make an additional 41,000+ Hoosier students eligible to apply for private school scholarships. Will that number include you?
Who is now eligible for Indiana’s Choice Scholarship?
This year’s new budget expands eligibility for Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program. Starting in 2023, any child from a family of four that earns less than $222,000 annually can receive a voucher to attend a private school of their choice. That income eligibility is up from the previous cap, which was $154,00 annually for a household of four.
In prior years, students also had to meet one of several eligibility pathways to apply for a scholarship. For example, these included having an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or having attended a public school the previous school year. The new budget gets rid of those requirements, opening the door for current private school students to be able to apply for scholarships.
With these scholarship expansions, about 97% of Hoosier students are now eligible for a private school scholarship.
What is the Indiana’s Choice Scholarship amount?
In 2022, the scholarship amount was $5,439, and that amount is expected to increase for the upcoming school year. This amount may cover tuition at some Indiana private schools, especially elementary grade schools. At schools where it doesn’t fully cover tuition, need-based or academic-based scholarships may be available to bridge the gap.
Where can the scholarship be used?
Families who apply for and receive a scholarship can apply it to any of the private schools approved by the Indiana Department of Education. More than 250 private schools participate in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program.
Expansions to other state-run scholarships
The new budget also makes important changes for two other state-run scholarship programs: Indiana’s School Scholarship Tax Credit and the Education Scholarship Account Program for students with special needs. It expands eligibility for both, allowing more families to participate.
New Career Scholarship Account program for high school students
Indiana’s new budget certainly has a big impact for families who’d like to choose private schools. But this year’s legislative changes also impact high school students of all school types. HB 1002 launches a Career Scholarship Account program to expand work-based learning for highschoolers across the state.
The new program is open to 10th-12th graders not already enrolled in a career technical education program. All students, including homeschoolers, are eligible to apply. The program allows students who create a graduation plan to receive a flexible grant of about $5,000 for approved “earn-and-learn opportunities.” These can include career coaching, apprenticeships, certification programs, and postsecondary training. The program aims to give students opportunities to learn valuable job skills and explore the careers that most interest them, while earning high school credit!
The Career Scholarship Account program is set up like an education savings account. Parents of participating students receive grant funds in an online account and can renew each year if eligible. Public schools may provide career and technical education offerings that students can use their funds on. Or, students may work directly with other course providers or employers. If funds remain unused at the end of a school year, up to $1,000 of that year’s unused funds can roll over into the next. Families who receive scholarship funds must participate in an annual survey about the program.
As you can see, Indiana’s new laws promise big changes for K-12 education. Here are three more ways, briefly noted, that education is changing for Hoosier families across school sectors this year:
Traditional public schools will receive increased funding. This includes increased funding per student as well as larger special education grants and grants for English language learners.
Textbook fees are being eliminated for many families. This means that traditional public and public charter schools cannot charge you for textbooks and other curriculum materials. If your student attends a private school, you will not be charged textbook fees if you qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
Charter schools will receive more funding. This will help charters pay for facilities and other learning expenses for students.
These changes, combined with the scholarship expansions, will give Indiana families significantly more access to customizing their child’s education!