By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Enrollment in Indiana’s private school voucher program has the potential to double this school year.
Last week, the Indiana Department of Education released data showing that just over 20,000 applications have been received for the Indiana Choice Scholarship program. It is the largest number of applicants in the program’s brief history.
A department spokesperson told the Associated Press that officials won’t know until later this month how many of those applicants qualify for and take the voucher opportunity.
In 2011, state lawmakers approved the voucher program. That first year about 4,000 students received a voucher to attend a private school. The program’s enrollment grew to about 9,300 students in 2012.
Earlier this year, the state legislature passed a law expanding eligibility of the Choice Scholarship program.
“It’s encouraging to see so many Hoosier families taking advantage of this outstanding program,” said Betsy Wiley, president of School Choice Indiana. “This record number of applicants demonstrates the ongoing demand for choice, and we applaud Gov. Pence for signing the School Voucher Improvement Bill (HB 1003) into law earlier this year and giving more parents this important option.”
Wiley said that while most kids are well served by their public school, some families need different options for education.
The voucher program allows some low-income students to receive scholarship from the state to cover up to 90 percent of the state tuition amount for the school district in which they reside. According to the Department of Education, a student in the Lawrenceburg Community Schools Corporation could receive anywhere from 50 percent tuition support of $2,904 up to 90 percent support of $5,227.