What do Lady Gaga, Denzel Washington, and Ariana Grande have in common? Well, for one thing, they all attended private school at some point during K-12.
Today, there are tens of thousands of private schools across America. From Catholic schools, to independent schools, to schools with special curricula, private schools offer students distinctive learning cultures.
But private education is nothing new. Private or independent schools in America date way back to before the founding of the United States.
What you need to know about private schools.
Get a quick rundown.
Private schools are by nature schools of choice. No student is ever automatically assigned to a private school by any district or agency. Private schools are rooted in the belief that families should be able to choose their child’s learning environment. And, they should have options that match their family’s worldview, religious values, or education philosophy.
“Often the schools in the inner-city are overcrowded and don’t answer the needs of each student. Our school is intimate, family-oriented, and children are comfortable here. We have a very low tuition for an independent school, but many students are from low-income families and are assisted by the Children’s Scholarship Fund.”Lois Gregory, private school founder in the Bronx
Private schools may be more affordable than you think. A growing number of states have scholarship programs, which can defray the costs of private school. Often, these scholarships prioritize students from low or middle-income families or students with special needs. In addition to state-funded scholarship programs, most individual private schools also provide need-based or academic scholarships to students. Local community organizations sometimes provide scholarships as well, as do national organizations such as the Children’s Scholarship Fund and ACE Scholarships.
The cost of private education varies widely by state and school, with Connecticut having the highest costs and Nebraska having the lowest costs. Of all types of private schools, Catholic parish schools tend to have the lowest tuition costs: The average cost for Catholic elementary schools is about $4,840.
Interested in considering a private school? We’ve put together this ultimate guide to private school to answer your questions, link to tuition assistance programs in your state, and more.
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What are the differences between private schools vs. public schools? Are private schools better?
Public schools are always tuition free, while private schools generate their own funding through tuition, private grants and fundraising. We’ll cover options to lower the cost of private schools later in this guide.
Private schools can set their own admissions standards. Meanwhile, public charter schools must accept all students, and traditional public schools must accept all students within a designated geographic region, depending on the state.
As to which one is better, that depends on your student! It’s important to get as much information as possible to determine what the best learning option is for your individual child.
Where can I find private school rankings or ratings?
You can find private school rankings or ratings in a few places. GreatSchools has school profiles for most private schools in the country where you can find general information, student demographics, and parent reviews. Niche is another site where you can find information about a private school. Their school profiles have information related to academics, diversity, teachers, college prep, clubs & activities, and sports. Private School Review also hosts profiles of different private schools, sharing information such as school overviews, student body data, academics and faculty information, finances and admission data, and even a list of related schools to help you in your search. Just remember, reviews aren’t everything! You can make the best decision for your child by visiting schools in person or speaking with school staff.
Do private schools have to follow state standards?
Each state sets its own rules for private schools. Many of them require private schools to be accredited, licensed by the state, or approved by the state. Typically, private schools also follow state rules for safety, health, building codes, and the minimum number of school days required.
What are private school vouchers?
A school voucher lets families use all or a portion of the public funding set aside for their children’s education to pay for tuition at a private school. States with vouchers include: Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin (and D.C. has a voucher as well!).
What are tax-credit scholarships?
According to EdChoice, “Tax-credit scholarships allow taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to nonprofits that provide private school scholarships.” Currently, 22 states have tax-credit scholarship programs either active or launching soon. In each state, the legislature sets a cap on the amount of tax credits that can be distributed. So, the size and availability of tax-credit scholarships varies by state.
Besides tax-credit scholarships, some states offer tax credits and tax deductions to help families afford private school.
What are ESAs?
Education savings accounts (ESAs) give parents access to government-authorized savings accounts to pay for a variety of approved education expenses. Depending on the state, approved expenses may include private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, tutoring, transportation, and more. In many cases, parents can combine services from multiple different education options to create a unique path for their child. There are currently active ESA programs in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Utah, Montana, and South Carolina are also in the process of launching ESAs. Additionally, in 2021, Missouri created a unique ESA program funded by tax-credit donations (rather than directly by the state).
We encourage parents to follow the seven steps outlined in The School Choice Roadmap: 7 Steps to Finding the Right School for Your Child—a Foreward Indies award finalist, for all school search matters. This thorough, understandable process is designed to help all families identify learning environments that meet their children’s needs. These steps include:
1.Explore your private school options:
The first step you’ll want to take is researching private school options near you. You can use our free Schools Near Me tool to locate private schools near your zip code. Private schools are incredibly diverse, so chances are you’ll be able to consider a variety of religious and non-religious schools.
To learn whether private school students in your state are eligible for special education services, you can explore the state rules we’ve compiled at “How to Continue Your IEP, Even if You Start Homeschooling.”
If there’s a private school that interests you, reach out for more information. You may also want to take a tour or set up a phone call with the school administration. Here are some questions you can ask or consider: What is the school’s special focus? How much is tuition? Does the school provide any transportation? Is after-school care an option? What size are the classes? What sports or extracurricular activities are available?
3.Ask about scholarships
Your first step toward identifying scholarships is to ask the private school you’re considering. Schools are often happy to share information about scholarship opportunities in the local community. You can also check our list below to learn if there are state-run scholarships available in your state.
Some national organizations like the Children’s Scholarship Fund and ACE Scholarships also offer K-12 scholarships. Each year, the Children’s Scholarship Fund and its partner organizations award millions in scholarship awards to students across 19 states.
Once your questions have been answered, you can move forward with applying to the private school if you’d like. Depending on the school, there may be special entrance requirements for your child, like essays, an interview, or a test.
If your child is accepted into the private school, let your previous school know that you will be transferring. You can also make a request if there is anything you need from their end. As a parent/legal guardian, you can ask the school for a copy of your student’s educational record. If your student has any additional services, such as an intervention plan, Individualized Education Plan, 504 plan, or medical response plan, make sure that a copy of this information gets sent to the new school as well!
Many private schools and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships for students. In addition, 31 states offer official state programs that provide either a scholarship to private school or private school tuition assistance for families. Of these states, 21 states offer official scholarship programs. 9 states offer both scholarship and deduction programs. And,1 state offers only a deduction program.
Click on your state in the list below to learn about private school costs, scholarships, and organizations. You can also find Christian schools near your zip code at the Association of Christian Schools International, and Catholic schools near your zip code at the National Catholic Educational Association.
⬤ Tuition assistance may be available from privately funded scholarships
⬤ Tuition assistance available from an official state scholarship and deduction program
⬤ Tuition assistance available from an official state scholarship program
⬤ Tuition assistance available from an official state-run tax deduction or credit
Source: EdChoice, 2023; Independent research by NSCW
While tuition may seem like a barrier, Alabama has two state programs to support families who wish to attend private schools. As of 2023, children whose household income is below 250% of the federal poverty level, as well as students with Individualized Education Plans, can apply to the Education Scholarship Program. This program provides tax-credit scholarships of up to $10,000 for students to attend a public or private school of their choice. While the program prioritizes students at “priority schools” (schools with a D or F on their state report card), a limited number of students not assigned to priority schools can receive scholarships. Additionally, the Alabama Accountability Act allows families in priority schools to claim an income tax credit for the cost of moving their child to a different public or qualifying private school.
Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Alaska at present, but private scholarships may be available. Additionally, Alaska has a funding assistance program that can make some private school courses more affordable for families. Essentially, the state sets aside funds in the form of an annual allotment for students enrolled in a state-funded correspondence program. Families can then use their student allotment to request reimbursements for approved educational expenses. Currently, this may include courses at private schools (though not full-time tuition).
In Arizona there are currently five state-run scholarship programs, which can help families afford private school tuition. One of these is the nation’s very first tax-credit scholarship program, enacted in 1997. All K-12 students interested in choosing private school are eligible to apply for aid. Arizona launched another individual income tax-credit scholarship program in 2012. Arizona also offers a tax-credit scholarship program focusing on scholarships for low-income children. Fourth, “Lexie’s Law” provides tax-credit scholarships for students with special needs.
Finally, Arizona has an Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program that was adapted in 2022 to expand eligibility to all Arizona students. Participating families can receive scholarships of about $7,000 or more for qualifying educational expenses, including private school tuition, online education, tutoring, transportation, and education therapy.
As of August 2023, more than 63,000 Arizona students are participating in this popular program.
In 2023, Arkansas created a new scholarship program to help families afford nonpublic learning environments. Families who participate in the Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Accounts program can have 90% of their child’s state education funding (about $6,600 in 2023-24) deposited in an online account. Parents can then use that funding to pay for approved expenses, like tuition at an eligible private school.
For 2023-24, the program is open to students with disabilities, homeless students, foster students, first time kindergarteners, students currently in the Succeed Scholarship program, children of active duty military personnel, and students enrolled in the previous school year in F-rated public schools or Level 5 Intensive support school districts. Eligibility will expand next year, and any Arkansas student can apply by 2025! Find all the details in our Arkansas LEARNS Act Explainer.
Arkansas also has a tax-credit scholarship program for low-income children. This Philanthropic Investment in Arkansas Kids Scholarship Program offers scholarships of up to about $6,000 that eligible students can use for private school expenses. You can learn more at ACE Scholarships, which offers partial scholarships for low-income families who wish to attend K-12 private schools.
Learn more at Private School Review: Arkansas.
There are about 3,815 private schools across the state of California. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $15,147 for elementary schools and $20,808 for high schools. Tuition can vary quite a lot, and may be much lower in some cases.
Unfortunately, in California there are not currently any state-run scholarships to help families afford private school tuition. But, privately-funded scholarships may be available.
Unfortunately, in Colorado there are no state-run scholarship programs to help families afford private school tuition. However, there may be privately funded scholarships available. ACE Scholarships, for instance, works to provide scholarships for disadvantaged students in Colorado and other states.
Unfortunately, in Connecticut there are no state-run scholarships to help families afford private school tuition. Privately-run scholarships may be available. Additionally, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Unfortunately, in Delaware there are no state-run scholarship options for private schools, but private scholarships may be available, such as through the Delaware KIDS Fund.
Florida has recently expanded its state-run programs for families who wish to choose private education. As of July 1, 2023, Florida’s existing Family Empowerment Scholarship Educational Opportunity Voucher Program and Florida Tax Credit Program will be converted into education savings account programs open to every child in the state who wishes to enroll in a non-public school option. Participating families receive their education funds (about $8,000) in an online account. They can use those funds for private school tuition, as well as other expenses like online learning costs, part-time tutoring, or an approved course at a local public school!
Florida also offers specific scholarship programs for struggling readers, victims of bullying, and students with an Individualized Education Plan. In 2023, Florida expanded its Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities Program to help eliminate a waitlist for students with special needs.
An awesome resource for families wanting to learn more about private schools and scholarship opportunities is My Choices in Ed FL. Learn more at the Florida Association of Academic Nonpublic Schools, Step Up For Students, the Florida Catholic Conference, and Private School Review: Florida.
Georgia’s nonpublic schools do charge tuition, but a public school student wishing to switch to a private school can apply for a scholarship. Georgia’s Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit program helps fund these scholarships by allowing donors to receive tax credits when they give to a scholarship organization. To apply for a scholarship, reach out directly to one of the state’s Student Scholarship Organizations listed on the Georgia Department of Education’s website. These organizations manage private school scholarships and can let you know about availability and next steps. In 2022, Georgia legislators strengthened this tax credit program by increasing the cap on donations to it.
The state also has a scholarship program specifically for children with special needs. In 2021, this program expanded to include students with a 504 plan for a variety of conditions (autism, cancer, drug abuse, etc.). Additional funding may be available from other sources.
Georgia’s private schools offer unique formats, curricula, and cultures for students to learn in. Learn more at Private School Review: Georgia.
Unfortunately, in Hawaii there are not currently any state-run scholarships to help families with the cost of private school, though private scholarships may be available. Additionally, families can save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Idaho at present to help with the cost of private school. But, private scholarships may be available. Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Illinois’ Tax Credits for Education Expenses program allows families with students attending a private school (or homeschooling) to claim a credit for qualified expenses, like tuition or book fees. This can help make private school tuition more affordable. Also, the state’s Invest in Kids Program is a scholarship currently serving low-income children, but is set to sunset in 2024 unless renewed.
If you live in Chicago and are looking for private school scholarship assistance, you may wish to check out the Big Shoulders Fund, the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund, LINK Unlimited, and HFS Chicago Scholars.
There are about 800 private schools across the state of Indiana. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $5,881 for elementary schools and $10,280 for high schools. Thanks to recent expansions, 97% of Hoosier students are now eligible for a scholarship to help with private school expenses.
For example, more than 44,000 students participate annually in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship, which provides vouchers for private school tuition. This program was expanded in 2023; now, nearly all students in the state are eligible to apply.
In 2022, Indiana kicked off an Education Savings Account program to provide flexible educational funding for students with special needs. This program also expanded in 2023 to allow more families to participate.
Parents in Indiana also have the option of taking tax deductions for private school expenses. Or, through Indiana’s Tax-Credit Scholarship program, low and middle-income families can apply for tax-credit scholarships for private school tuition.
Iowa’s new scholarship, an education savings account program, gives families funds to use for tuition and other expenses at accredited private schools. The program will phase in over three years. For 2023-2024, current public school students and all new kindergarteners are eligible to apply for the program, regardless of income. Students who attended private school for the 2022-2023 school year can also apply if their family income does not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level ($90,000 for a family of four in 2022-2023).
Additionally, families can take a tax deduction of up to $500 per student for nonpublic school expenses. While the deduction is relatively small, every little bit can help. Also, children in Iowa are eligible for scholarships through the School Tuition Organization Tax Credit as long as their family income doesn’t exceed 400% of the federal poverty level ($111,000 for a family of four in 2022-2023). As of August 2023, more than 18,000 Iowa students have been approved for education savings accounts for this school year!
Kansas’ first private school choice program, launched in 2015, provides scholarships for low-income families to access another education option. In 2023, eligibility for the scholarship was expanded. Now, students from families earning up to 250% of the federal poverty level — about $75,000 a year for a family of four — can apply.
There may also be other private scholarship opportunities available; for example, ACE Scholarships works to provide scholarships for low-income children in Kansas.
Learn more at Private School Review: Kansas.
In 2021, Kentucky created a unique private school choice program. Through it, low-income families would be eligible for flexible funding to use at a public or private schools of their choosing. This program, one of the nation’s first education savings account programs funded by tax-credit donations, was ruled unconstitutional in winter 2022. However, there may be other privately-funded scholarship opportunities available.
In Louisiana, there are a couple opportunities in place to make private school more affordable. For one, families who pay private school expenses can claim a deduction on their taxes. Currently, families can deduct up to $5,000 for tuition and fees from their total taxable income; in 2024, that amount will increase to $6,000. Also, families with incomes below a certain level can qualify for tax-credit scholarships.
Additionally, Louisiana has two voucher programs, one for students with special needs and one for low-income students. And since 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Learn more at Private School Review: Louisiana.
Maine has the nation’s second oldest school choice program, enacted in 1873. Through Maine’s Town Tuitioning Program, students who live in towns without a public school can receive funding to attend private schools in other communities. You can find an interactive map of Maine’s town tuition choices at the Maine Policy Institute.
As of June 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in Carson v. Makin that Maine’s town tuitioning program cannot exclude religious private schools from the options parents could choose through the program. However, currently only one religious school is approved to participate.
Families can also inquire into whether private scholarships are available, such as through the Maine Children’s Scholarship Fund.
Maryland has one private school choice program, the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) Program, which provides state-run educational scholarships for families under a certain income level. More than 3,200 Maryland students took advantage of this program in the 2021-2022 school year.
Additional support may be available. For example, the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust partners with 18 private schools to provide admissions and financial support to high-achieving African American students in the Baltimore area. Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Learn more at Children’s Scholarship Fund-Baltimore, the Abell Foundation, Knott Scholarship Funds, Partners in Excellence, the Maryland Council for American Private Education, the Maryland Catholic Conference, and Private School Review: Maryland.
Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Massachusetts at present, but private scholarships may be available, such as through the Catholic Schools Foundation. Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
There are about 900 private schools across the state of Michigan. Tuition costs vary widely, but the average in the state is $6,547 for private elementary schools and $11,405 for private high schools.
Michigan is one of the most constitutionally restrictive states for school choice, so there are currently no state-run scholarship opportunities that make private school more accessible to Michigan families. If you think a private school is best for your child but have funding concerns, you can ask whether there are any privately funded scholarships available.
Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
While private schools do charge tuition, Minnesota parents are eligible for tax deductions on educational expenses, including private school tuition payments. Minnesota has an additional K-12 Education Credit program that families under a certain income may be eligible to apply for.
In Mississippi, there are several state-run scholarship programs helping families with special needs gain access to private schools. The Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship is designed specifically to help children with dyslexia access private schools with dyslexic therapy programs. Meanwhile, the Nate Rogers Scholarship program provides vouchers to certain private schools for students with speech-language therapy needs. Meanwhile, the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs program allows students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to receive some of their public education funding in a savings account, which can be used for approved education expenses, like private school tuition.
Missouri created its first private school choice program, an education savings account, in 2021. This MOScholars program provides families with flexible scholarship funds (up to $6,375) that they can put toward attending the eligible public, charter, virtual, private, or homeschool of their choice. Families can even use the funds for educational therapy or school transportation! To be eligible for this program, students must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or be from families earning up to 200 percent of the federal free-and-reduced-price lunch program. Students must also be from charter counties or cities with more than 30,000 residents.
Montana’s first school choice program, a scholarship program funded by tax-credited donations, was launched in 2015. After the program’s legality was challenged by the Montana Supreme Court, the program was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark case, which ruled it constitutional in 2020. All students between the ages of five and 18 in Montana are eligible to apply for this program which was expanded in 2023. The average scholarship size received is about $2,200.
Starting in 2024, students with special needs will be eligible for a new education savings account scholarship. Participating families will receive about $6,800 in an online account for their child. These funds can be flexibly used for private school tuition, textbooks, curriculum, tutoring, education therapies, transportation or other approved learning expenses.
Nebraska passed its first state-run private school choice scholarship program in 2023! Starting in 2024, low-income students will be able to participate in this new Opportunity Scholarships program. The program will provide scholarships of up to about $9,000 to children in need who wish to choose an approved private school.
Additionally, the federal government does allow parents in all 50 states to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
There are more than 170 private schools across the state of Nevada, and more than 20,000 private school students. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $10,544 for elementary schools and $11,407 for high schools. Private schools in Nevada provide the same number of days of instruction and private school teachers must hold a teacher’s license or meet another requirement.
In 2015, Nevada launched a school choice program that enables families at or below 300% of the federal poverty line ($83,250 for a family of four in 2022-2023) to apply for scholarships for private education. Do you think a private school could be the best fit for your child? You can also reach out to the school about whether any privately funded scholarships are available.
There are more than 280 private schools across the state of New Hampshire. The Granite State’s private schools come in all shapes and forms. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $11,601 for elementary schools and $28,426 for high schools.
According to the state’s Town Tuitioning Program, if your town doesn’t have a district school at your grade level, your district will pay for your child to attend a public or private school in or outside of New Hampshire. As of 2021, this may include religious private schools.
In addition, students from a household where family income is less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($90,000 for a family of four in 2023) can apply to the state’s tax-credit program. Recipients of the program receive scholarships to use for private school tuition, tutoring, or other educational expenses.
Since 2021, New Hampshire also offers a “Education Freedom Account” program. This flexible program allows low and middle-income students to receive education grants to customize their learning. The funds can be used to choose a private school, pay for tutoring or books, put toward educational therapy, and more. As of 2023, this program is open to students from a household where family income is less than 350 percent of the federal poverty level ($105,000 for a family of four in 2023.)
There are more than 1,300 private schools across the state of New Jersey. The average tuition for private schools in the state is $14,234 for elementary schools and $18,871 for high schools. You can find a complete list at the New Jersey Department of Education. Additionally, families in Newark, New Jersey may be interested in learning about private schools (as well as other types of schools) at My Schools Newark.
Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in New Jersey. However, private scholarships may be available, such as through the Tri-County Scholarship Fund, the Student Partner Alliance, and The Wight Foundation. You can find additional tips for financing private school at New Jersey Family.
There are no state-run scholarship options in New Mexico, but private scholarships may be available. Also, parents can save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts. You can read about recent changes to New Mexico’s state-sponsored 529 education savings plan at The Education Plan website.
While there are no state-run scholarship options in New York, many private schools, such as The Learning Tree Cultural Preparatory School, work with scholarship-granting organizations to keep tuition affordable for all families who are interested. In fact, there are more than 200 New York City private schools with an average annual tuition of $6,065.
Additionally, New York City students with disabilities may be eligible to have private school tuition reimbursed by the Department of Education when there is not an appropriate public education able to serve their special learning plan. According to WNYC, “Because children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education under federal law, the Education Department may recommend a nonpublic school program if it is unable to provide the services mandated for your child in his or her Individualized Education Program.”
Learn more about private school opportunities at the Children’s Scholarship Fund – New York,BISON Children’s Scholarship Fund, Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation, Advocates for Children of New York’s Guide to Special Education, Inner-City Scholarship Fund, Futures in Education, Oliver Scholars, Prep for Prep, Student Sponsor Partners, and Private School Review: New York.
There are a few state-run scholarship programs in North Carolina that can make private school more accessible to low-income families and children with special needs. The state’s Opportunity Scholarships provide vouchers to more than 22,000 low and middle-income children for private school expenses. Students with certain special needs may also be eligible for the North Carolina Personal Education Students Accounts for Children with Disabilities Program (ESA+), which expanded in the 2022-2023 school year.
For a deep data dive into North Carolina’s private schools, check out this analysis of the state’s private school landscape.
Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in North Dakota at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, since 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Learn more at Private School Review: North Dakota.
But if you’re assuming private school isn’t affordable, think again. In 2023, Ohio’s Educational Choice Scholarship Program expanded: now every child in the state is eligible to apply. This program provides vouchers (worth up to $6,165 for K-8 students and up to $8,407 for 9-12 students) for families who wish to choose private school.
Ohio offers several other state-run funding programs too. These include scholarship programs for students with autism and students with special needs. Both the Autism Scholarship Program and Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program expanded in 2023 to become available to even more families. Ohio’s Cleveland Scholarship Program, originally designed for families in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District who wished to choose private school, expanded in 2023 as well.
Plus, Ohio offers a scholarship program funded by tax-credit donations. Open to all students, this program gives priority to low-income families. Finally, families enrolled in certain private schools or homeschooling are eligible for a tax credit.
Oklahoma students in certain underperforming schools or who meet certain income guidelines (income at or less than $154,014 for a family of four in 2022-2023) can qualify for state-run scholarship programs. Students with disabilities may be eligible for the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship. Think a private a private school is best for your child but have funding concerns? You can also ask if funding is available through private sources.
In 2023, lawmakers passed the Oklahoma Parental Tax Credit Act. Once this new tax credit program launches in January 2024, all students enrolling in an accredited private school can apply for a refundable income tax credit. The credit will cover $5,000-$7,500 of private school tuition costs. Get all the details in our full explainer.
Learn more at Private School Review: Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Oregon at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, parents can save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Some Pennsylvania families are eligible for state-run scholarship programs. If you live in a low-achieving school zone and meet certain income requirements, you may be able to participate in the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program. Or, children from low or middle income families may be eligible for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit. These programs received a boost in Pennsylvania’s fiscal budget for 2022-2023, allowing an estimated additional 31,000 students to receive school choice scholarships.
Learn more about private schools and scholarship opportunities at Children’s Scholarship Fund-Philadelphia, CEO-America, Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS), the Extra Mile Education Foundation, the Pennsylvania Affiliate of the Council on American Private Education and Private School Review: Pennsylvania.
Rhode Island students whose family incomes are at or below 250% of the poverty level ($69,375 for a family of four in 2022-2023) are eligible for private school scholarships of varying amounts. In 2022, nearly 500 students participated in the program and received an average of $2,890 in scholarship funding.
In South Carolina, if your child has a disability and you believe the assigned public school does not meet his or her needs, you can apply to the Exceptional Needs Children Fund and may be able to receive a scholarship toward private school. Additionally, the state offers a refundable educational credit program where parents may receive a tax credit for learning expenses for special needs students.
Also, starting in 2024, low-income families will be able to apply to receive up to $6,000 of flexible education funding for private school tuition and other approved expenses through a new scholarship program. You can learn if you are eligible to apply in our full explainer.
In South Dakota, families with income below 150% of the federal free and reduced-price lunch program ($77,006 for a family of four in 2022) may be eligible for a private school scholarship through the Partners in Education Tax Credit Program. Currently, about 41% of South Dakota families are eligible for the scholarship. In 2022, a bill passed making students in foster care eligible for the program and increasing the scholarship cap. Additional funding may be available from other sources.
Learn more at Private School Review: South Dakota.
Also, low-income and middle-income students zoned to attend a Shelby County District school, Hamilton County school, or Metro Nashville Public School may qualify for a state-funded voucher to attend a private school of their choice. Families can find an enrollment form and more details at the Tennessee Department of Education. Additional funding may be available from other sources.
There are no state-run scholarship options in Texas, but private scholarships may be available to help families access private school. Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
In Utah, there are two state-run scholarship programs to help children with special needs access private school: The Carson Smith Special Needs Scholarship Program and the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship program, which you can read more about at Children First Education Fund.
A new scholarship open to all Utah students will launch for the 2024-2025 school year: the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program. This education savings account program will give $8,000 in flexible education funding to families choosing to enroll in a nonpublic school option, like private school. Besides private school tuition, families may be able to use the funds for other customized learning needs, including tutoring services, educational software, individual classes at a local public school, or dual enrollment at a technical college.
Learn more at Private School Review: Utah.
Students in specific Vermont towns that do not have a public school for their grade are eligible for a tuitioning program., This program funds their attendance at a public or even private school outside of their community.
In 2022, the Supreme Court clarified that faith-based private schools are eligible to participate in this program. Schools that choose to participate in this town tuitioning program cannot deny enrollment to students based on special-education needs. For the 2022-2023 school year, Vermont approved 15 private religious schools for participation in the program. Unfortunately, Vermont’s 2023 state budget includes a ban on adding any more independent schools to the current approved list of participants.
Additional funding may be available from other sources, and the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Learn more at Private School Review: Vermont.
In Virginia, a state-run scholarship program is available to students with family incomes below 300% of the federal poverty level ($83,250 for a family of four in 2022-2023) and students with special needs.
Also, the federal government does allow parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Unfortunately, there are no state-run private school tuition assistance programs in Washington to help families with the cost of private school. But, private scholarships may be available. Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
In 2021, West Virginia created the Hope Scholarship program, which allows students currently enrolled in public school or about to enter kindergarten to use their education tax dollars for private school tuition, tutoring, educational therapy, or other learning expenses. More than 5,000 students have been awarded Hope Scholarships for the 2023-2024 school year. The Hope Scholarship amount is currently $4,488.
In 2023, West Virginia passed a law making it easier for Hope Scholarship students and other non-traditional students to participate in extracurriculars at their local public school.
Learn more at Private School Review: West Virginia.
While private schools do charge tuition, any Wisconsin taxpayer can deduct the cost of private school tuition. Wisconsin students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) are eligible to apply for the state’s special needs scholarship program, which can be used toward private school.
Also, Milwaukee students from families who meet certain income requirements can apply to the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, and students in Racine who meet similar requirements can apply to the Racine Parental Choice Program. Low-income students not assigned to the Milwaukee Public Schools or Racine Unified districts may also be able to apply for a private school voucher. More than 52,000 students statewide use Wisconsin’s vouchers program to find a good private school fit. In fact, students participating in Wisconsin’s private school choice programs will soon receive a funding boost: A bill passed in 2023 increases the amount of funding that students receive in 2023-2024 and 2024-2025.
Learn more at Private School Review: Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Wyoming at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.
Families who receive food stamps or meet certain income limits ($51,338 for a family of four in 2021) may qualify for the District’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Students in low-performing schools, or whose siblings use Opportunity Scholarships, receive preference. The establishment of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was recently the subject of a feature film, Miss Virginia!
The information in this ultimate guide to private school is designed to help families who are considering private schools in their decision-making process. Our mission is to provide families with the information they need about all the school options available – traditional public, public charter, public magnet, private, online, and at home – so they can choose the right fit for their child. Read more guides about choosing other types of schools.