Family FAQs

Education Policy

Q Do teachers have to be licensed in Indiana?

In most cases, public school teachers in Indiana teachers must be licensed. School districts can request the Department of Education to grant an Emergency Permit if the school is experiencing difficulty in filling a specific content area. Individuals who receive an emergency permit must have a bachelor’s degree and commit to working towards licensure. IC 20-24-6-5 allows no more than 10% of a charter school’s teachers to be unlicensed. Unlicensed charter teachers must be in the process of obtaining their license or hold a Bachelor’s degree in the content area they teach.  

School Funding

Q Do vouchers take money away from public schools?

No. Public schools have two sources of funding: state and local money. The money that follows the student in the choice scholarship program is state money. All the local tax dollars stay with the traditional public school district, regardless of how many children go to school there. When students leave to attend another school, the local district gets all the local money, but they are educating fewer kids. This means the public school actually gets more money per child. Money is NOT being taken from the local districts' budgets. In fact, savings from the program are re-distributed to the traditional public school districts throughout the state.

 If parents are satisfied with the education they are receiving in a public school, they won't leave. We need to stop selling our public schools short by assuming everyone will leave if given the chance.

Q How much money does Indiana currently spend on K-12 education?

Nearly $8 billion which is more than 50% of the State Budget goes towards K-12 education. The state budget passed during the 2019 legislative session provided an unprecedented increase of $763 million in new money for K-12 schools. Additionally, 42% of local property tax dollars that are collected fund traditional public schools. According to the most recent Dollars to the Classroom Report, only 58 cents for every dollar we spend on education makes it into the classroom and the remaining 42 cents is put towards non-instructional expenses.

IN Transparency Portal:
HEA 1001 – 2019:
IN House Republican Budget Summary:

Q How is school funding determined in our state?

Each biennial budget that the General Assembly passes includes a school funding formula as well as other categorical funds that flow to Indiana’s K-12 schools. The funding formula includes a base foundation amount, a complexity index (which designates more money to schools with higher populations of low-income students), additional funds for special education students, career and technical education students, and $1,000 per each student who graduates with an honors diploma. The average per pupil funding amount for the 2019-2020 school year is $6,718. Separate appropriations in the state budget include state funding for testing, remediation, textbook reimbursement, Advanced Placement and PSAT programs, gifted and talented programs, school performance awards, technology and English language learner programs.


School Funding Runs:


Q Are voucher schools held to the same accountability standards as public schools?

Voucher schools have higher accountability standards than their public school counterparts. 1. If a voucher school receives a D or F grade for two consecutive years, they can no longer accept students who are in the choice scholarship program 2. Traditional public schools can receive an F grade for four consecutive years (beginning in 2016) before the State Board of Education is required to take action.

Q What is a "turnaround" school?

A turnaround school is a school that after six consecutive years remains in the lowest performance category (school letter grade = F) and is not closed or merged with another school. Beginning in 2016, schools will become turnaround schools after just four consecutive years of receiving an F. Public Law 221 requires the State Board of Education (SBOE) to intervene in turnaround schools. For more information see: IC 20-31-2-10; IC 20-31-9-4; IC 20-31-9.5

Q Has Indiana always had accountability metrics for schools?

In 1999, the General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1750 which created Indiana’s accountability system and first required schools to receive an annual category placement. This bill also set up the consequences for schools that remain in the lowest category placement (F letter grade) for six consecutive years and become turnaround academies. Legislation passed in 2015 changed this timeline from six years to four years for all public schools. Private schools that participate in the Choice Scholarship (voucher) Program have a much stricter accountability timeline and can lose the ability to enroll new voucher students after two years of a D or F rating (IC 20-51-4-9).

Charter Schools

Q What is a charter school?

Charter schools are public schools that are nonsectarian and nonreligious and operate under a charter, or a contract between a charter authorizer and operator. Charter schools are typically governed by an independent board of directors and receive some flexibility from state regulations in return for stronger accountability. Charter schools are establishing according to IC 20-24 to serve various styles and needs of public schools students with innovative instructional models. Any non-profit entity operating with a 501 (c)(3) designation can organize and apply for a charter with one of the state's charter authorizing boards.

If more students apply than there are seats available, a lottery must be held. Choice scholarships (school vouchers) cannot be used to attend a charter school because charter schools are free, public schools. 

Charter schools are required by law to give state standardized assessments (ISTEP, IREAD, and ECA) and be graded on the A-F school grading system like all other public schools. By law, charter schools are subject to closure after four consecutive years as an F rated school. 

Approximately 80 charter schools are currently serving more than 35,000 students across Indiana. For more information:;

Q Are charter schools funded differently than traditional public schools?

Charter schools are public schools that are required to accept all students, but they receive less funding than district public schools because they do not receive any local property tax dollars. Brick and mortar charter schools do receive state funding in the same manner as district public schools (base foundation, complexity, special education, etc.). While charter schools do not have access to any local dollars, the state does provide a $750 stipend per charter school pupil for qualifying charter schools. However, the average public school district receives $3,200 per pupil in local property tax dollars, so there is still a significant funding gap for charter schools.


Q Are charter schools operated by for-profit companies?

In Indiana, an authorizer may only grant charters to organizers that are 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations as designated by the IRS ( IC 20-24-3-2 ). Public charter schools, like district public schools, may elect to contract with for-profit providers for educational and/or management services. Public charter school boards are held to the same state requirements, open meeting laws and transparency. Any for-profit company contracted for services answers to the non-profit governing board and the charter authorizer. Regardless of who operates the school, open-enrollment policies must apply. Charter schools are held to the same performance accountability standards as traditional public schools and receive less funding.

Tax Credit Scholarship

Q What is a tax credit scholarship?

Tax credit scholarships are available to families who meet certain income requirements. Individuals and businesses may donate to this program to help low- and middle-income children attend a private school of their choice. All charitable donations to this program are eligible to receive a 50% state tax credit. Indiana law limits the total amount of tax credit scholarships that may be awarded to $15 million for Fiscal Year 2020. The cap on available credits will increase to $16.5M in Fiscal Year 2021. For a list of private schools that offer the Tax Credit Scholarship, click here . Additional information about the tax credit program can be found on the Indiana Department of Revenue’s website and the Indiana Department of Education’s website.

Q Are current private school students eligible for the tax credit scholarship program?

Yes. The 2013 General Assembly passed legislation allowing current eligible private school families to use a tax credit scholarship. Using a tax credit scholarship for one year allows eligible families to apply for a school voucher the following school year.

Q Could a student who receives a school voucher also receive a tax credit scholarship?

Yes. A student who meets the requirements for a school voucher could qualify for a tax credit scholarship as well, provided that the combination of the two does not exceed tuition and fees.

School Choice

Q What is school choice?

School choice allows parents the freedom to send their child to the school that best meets his/her needs- whether that is a traditional public school, public charter, virtual, private, or homeschool. 

Q Can my child attend a public school in a district other than where we live?

Every public school district has the option of accepting students from outside their boundaries. Since 100% of state tuition support comes from the state, schools cannot charge transfer students a tuition fee for portions of their educational experience that are already covered by the state. In February of 2014, Legislative Services Agency reported there were more than 26,500 public to public school transfer students and approximately 76% of school corporations allowed transfer students. 

Q What is an education savings account (ESA)?

An ESA provides a consumer driven approach to educational options, and functions much like a Health Savings Account. Currently Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Nevada are the only states that allow ESAs. A portion of a state tuition support is deposited in an account with defined, but multiple uses, including private school tuition, tutoring, and online education. Any money that is not used can be saved for future education expenses, including college.  

Q What if I decide to homeschool my child(ren)? Is there any opportunity for assistance?

Homeschool students are not eligible for the school voucher program or a tax credit scholarship. Those programs can only be used at participating private schools. The parent would be eligible for a maximum of $1,000 tax deduction per child for state tax liability for unreimbursed education expenses. The Department of Revenue will provide further detail on this deduction.

Voucher Program

Q What is a school voucher?

Voucher programs like the one in Indiana allow parents to use the state funding set aside for their children's education to send their children to the private school of their choice.

Q What are the eligibility requirements for a school voucher?

The private school is responsible for determining whether the student meets the eligibility requirements (see below).

If eligible, you will apply for the school voucher with the school that has accepted your child(ren) for enrollment. Final voucher eligibility is determined by the Indiana Department of Education based on your completed application. 

To be eligible, a student must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a resident of Indiana
  • Be accepted for enrollment into a participating voucher school that is located in Indiana
  • Be between the ages of 5 and 22 no later than August 1 of the school year
  • Meet the income requirements


  • Child attended a public school the full previous school year and is entering 1st grader or higher.
  • Child is assigned to attend an “F”-rated public school based on residence for the coming school year.
  • Child has a sibling who received a school voucher or tax credit scholarship at any time in their K-12 education.
  • Child has a documented IEP or ISP
  • Child received a school voucher during any previous school year.
  • Child received a school voucher the year before and would like to re-apply for a school voucher.
  • Child received a tax credit scholarship from an approved SGO during any previous school year.
For help determining your eligibility, click here to visit our Opportunity Calculator. 

Q What are the voucher household income limits?

Please view the income requirements here.

Q Do voucher schools have to accept all kids like public schools do?

No. By participating in the program, non-public schools are agreeing to partner with the state in providing education for more Hoosier families. Their participation does not imply that they intend to be more like public schools. In some cases, participating schools may have academic requirements students have to meet in order to be accepted. However, Indiana law prohibits these schools from setting special requirements for students who receive financial assistance.

Q Do voucher schools require admission based testing?

A small number of voucher schools require admissions based testing, but the majority do not. Only 18 schools have been identified as requiring a student to take an admissions test.

Q Are voucher programs constitutional?

Yes. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Cleveland’s voucher program was in fact constitutional. In this landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote that programs like Cleveland’s are “neutral in respect to religion (because they) provide assistance directly to a broad class of citizens, who, in turn, direct government aid to religious schools wholly as a result of their own genuine and independent private choice.” Other programs such as the Federal Pell Grant program and the GI Bill for veterans are similar in that they provide government funding to an individual who is then free to choose where they want to attend school.

 The Indiana Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s program with a 5-0 vote in the case of Teresa Meredith et. al. v. Mitch Daniels (2013). Chief Justice Dickson wrote the 22-page for the Court stating, "We hold that the Indiana school voucher program, the choice scholarship program, is within the legislature's power under Article 8, Section 1, and that the enacted program does not violate either Section 4 or Section 6 of Article 1 of the Indiana Constitution."

Q Do voucher schools serve children with special needs?

Many voucher participating private schools do provide special education services, while others partner with the local public school to provide special education resources to students.  These decisions should be made after a conversation between the school and parent/guardian about the needs of the student. In many cases, schools that don't serve special needs children make that choice because they don't feel their school is properly equipped to best serve the students’ needs. At the time of application, the parent/guardian of a Choice student who qualifies to receives special education and related services must designate the Choice school or the public school corporation as the special education service provider. If the Choice school is selected as the special education service provider, the school is eligible to receive State special education funding for any eligible special education Choice student. More information can be found here.

Q What if I am a foster parent and would like the foster child to receive a voucher? Will our household income be included?

Under current state procedures, foster children are automatically qualified for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch program as well as textbook rental assistance. If official documentation can be provided that verifies the student's (current) foster status, the income verification process will not be required.

Notwithstanding additional guidance from the Department of Child Services (DCS) in the future, we recommend the school obtain an official e-mail from the local DCS caseworker confirming foster status, and then save this e-mail for the school's records.

Additionally, if your household includes biological children in addition to foster children, payments received for serving as a foster parent will not be included in the household income calculation (i.e. if one or more biological child applies for a voucher as well).

Q If a student receives a voucher and then decides to transfer within the same school year, what would happen to the voucher?

As a condition of participation in the program, the Department of Education will require prompt notification from your school if that happens. The school's receipt of voucher program funding for the student will be affected, depending on when the student withdraws.

The student would be able to change schools at the start of the following school year and apply for a voucher to do so if the household income requirements are still met. However, the student cannot change schools during the year and use a voucher to attend the second school.

Q Can a school charge tuition/fees in addition to what is covered by a voucher?

Yes. The parent/guardian is responsible for any tuition/fees that the school charges beyond the voucher amount. 

Q How is the amount of the voucher determined?

The value of the Choice Scholarship is the lesser of:


1. Tuition and fees at the eligible school; or

2. The amount listed below, as referenced against household income limits



50/70/90% award amounts by district:

Income eligibility chart: