School Choice Programs
Indiana offers non-public schools the opportunity to participate in choice programs
Like families, private schools in Indiana have a choice as to whether or not they participate in a particular choice program. There are two school choice programs available to non-public schools in Indiana. Interested schools may participate in one or both of these programs.
School voucher program (also known as the Indiana Choice Scholarship): there are currently 316 schools participating and more than 29,000 students enrolled in the program for the 2013- 2014 school year. Click on the menu option on the left for more information.
- Tax Credit Scholarship program: there are currently 202 non-public schools participating and more than 11,000 students received financial assistance through this program in the 2013- 2014 school year. To learn more about our Tax Credit Scholarship program, click here.
If you are a parent looking to determine whether or not you would be eligible to receive a schoolvoucher or tax credit scholarship, visit our Opportunity Calculator at: www.myschooloptions.org
Tax Deduction Program
Families whose children are enrolled in a private school or who choose to homeschool can claim up to $1,000 per dependent child on state taxes for educational expenses (unreimbursed expenses only). Examples of such expenses are tuition and fees at a private school, textbooks, and other school supplies. The deduction applies to taxable year 2011 and thereafter.
School Voucher Program
Indiana's school voucher program (also known as the Indiana Choice Scholarship) allows eligible students to use the portion of state allotted funds to attend a private school that has been approved to participate in the voucher program.
As a participating school, you will work with the Indiana Department of Education to accept eligible students and assist them in applying for their voucher.
Non-public schools interested in participating must be located in Indiana and accredited by the state or another regional accreditation agency recognized by the state board (click here for a list of approved agencies)
Schools must also agree to administer the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP+) exam and/or end of course assessments (ECAs) for high school to all students at the required testing grade levels
- Non-schools must voluntarily agree to enroll an eligible student and agree to not discriminate admission based on race, color, or national origin
Participating schools must conduct a lottery if the number of voucher applicants meeting admissions criteria exceeds the number of slots available for students receiving vouchers
Indiana’s A-F school accountability system applies to participating schools and any school that receives a D or F for two consecutive years will become ineligible to receive new voucher students
Participating non-public schools must meet certain curricular standards which are consistent with state-accreditation
- Annual teacher evaluation plans must be implemented according to Indiana law
- Participating schools cannot be a public charter school or a traditional public school within the school corporation in which an eligible individual has legal settlement under IC 20-26-11
To review the official rules from the Indiana Department of Education and apply to participate, please click here.
Tax Credit Scholarship Program
The Tax Credit Scholarship Program was designed to encourage private donations that provide low and middle income children an opportunity to attend a private school of their choice.
Under Indiana law HEA 1003, which went into effect in May 2011, the Tax Credit Scholarship Program was expanded and may now be a pathway for families to enter the Indiana Choice Scholarship (school voucher) Program.
Families who meet the eligibility requirements can apply to certified Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) to receive a scholarship for their child to attend the K-12 private school of their choice.
Both corporate and individual donors are eligible to provide charitable donations to these SGOs in order to receive a 50% state tax credit, all while providing educational choices to families and opportunities to Hoosier students.The total program cap is $7.5 million dollars; this could mean up to $15 million in potential scholarships statewide.
Eligibility:To be deemed eligible to participate in the Tax Credit Scholarship Program your school must meet the following criteria:
Non- public schools must be accredited by a national, state, or regional accreditation organization approved by the Indiana Department of Education. To see a list of approved accrediting organizations, click here.
School must administer annual standardized tests, such as the ISTEP+ or another nationally-recognized, norm-referenced standardized test.
- Schools cannot accept students from a scholarship granting organization (SGO) that is administered by a relative of a school employee or board member.
Partnering with a Scholarship Granting OrganizationEligible schools must enroll with a scholarship granting organization (SGO). There are five SGOs in Indiana including the Institute for Quality Education (IQE). Schools interested in partnering with IQE as their SGO may fill out the form here. If you have questions about participating, please contact us at email@example.com or 317-951-8781.
Fort Wayne, IN
Letter to the Editor
At the end of her Jan. 22 column opposing school choice, Phyllis Bush asks rhetorically, “Whose choice is it, anyway?” Respectfully, it's my choice.
I am a proud graduate of Bishop Luers High School and a former recipient of the Indiana Choice Scholarship, or school voucher, as many commonly refer to it. My Bishop Luers education was challenging, but it prepared me for where I am today, studying optometry at Indiana University Bloomington.
When I started at Luers, I was confident that I was ready for high school – until I took my first big high school exam. Unfortunately, I was behind my peers academically. Through a lot of hard work, and with the support of some great teachers, I was able to catch up and forge ahead.
Without the Choice Scholarship, for which I'm truly grateful, I never would've been able to attend my alma mater. Choice Scholarships also assisted my three younger siblings.
One of my younger sisters went through public school until seventh grade, but they were not assisting her and her needs. She is a bright and hardworking young lady, but like many other students has a disability that affects the way she learns. Without all the help she has been granted from Bishop Luers and Indiana Choice, she also would not be where she is today in her education. With the more personalized help she receives and one-on-one time she gets, she has become more confident in her education and future.
I didn't write this letter to try to change Bush's mind about school choice; but I hope she'll remember that choice in Indiana is about making a quality education available to all Hoosier kids, no matter their family income or ZIP code.
Politics aside, is there really anything more important than their futures?
The Senate Education Committee voted Wednesday to advance SB 205, a bill that would allow Choice Scholarship recipients who transfer from a private school during the school year to use the remaining scholarship funds awarded to them as financial aid toward tuition at another private school.
As currently constituted, Indiana law requires private schools to return the prorated student financial aid provided through the Choice Scholarship program to the Indiana Department of Education when a student transfers schools during the school year. Often this results in students not being able to continue the private education their parents chose for them.
Hoosiers want the freedom to choose the best school for their child. The recently released Department of Education Public Transfer Report shows more than 130,000 students are exercising their freedom to choose a school other than the one assigned to them.
We believe that funding following the child is the right public policy for all students regardless of what type of school they attend. To eliminate an educational opportunity for a lower-income student mid-year because they transferred schools is wrong. It is our hope that the General Assembly, will do what is right and allow these scholarship dollars to follow the scholarship student to their new school.
President & CEO, Institute for Quality Education