Parental School Choice

NCEA supports the concept of full and fair parental choice in education which is supported by tax relief, voucher, scholarships and other aid to parents so they may seek the educational opportunities they want for their children. 

Definitions of Parental Choice Options

  • Parental choice in education encompasses a range of options that allows parents to select the type of school they wish for their children. The usual choice options include:
  • A publicly funded voucher is a payment the government makes to a parent, or an institution on a parent's behalf, to be used for a child's education expenses.
  • A privately funded voucher is a payment that a private organization makes to a parent, or an institution on a parent's behalf, to be used for a child's education expenses.
  • A tax credit provides direct reductions to an individual's tax liability. A refundable credit allows for a tax refund if the credit exceeds the liability.
  • A tax deduction is a reduction in taxable income made prior to the calculation of tax liability.
  • A private scholarship tax credit allows individuals and businesses to take a tax credit for contributions to a private, nonprofit organization that that provides scholarship aid for children to attend a school of their parents choosing.
  • A charter school is a public school that has been established by parents, teachers, community groups and public and private organizations interested in promoting school choice and competition within the public sector. The charters for these schools typically provide for a clear, focused mission, a smaller student population that facilitates creation of community, more innovative teaching practices, greater parental and local community involvement, clear educational and fiscal standards and accountability measures and fewer state and local school board bureaucratic regulations.
  • A magnet school is a public school that is organized around a specific program or philosophy and enrolls students across the district.
  • Public school choice usually refers interdistrict or intradistrict enrollment, allowing student to attend schools outside their attendance zone, within or across district lines, without charge.

School Voucher Programs

U.S. Department of Education publication:  Education Options in the States: State Programs that Provide Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Elementary or Secondary Schools. This is a reader-friendly accounting of the available programs and how they operate.  It is a useful guide not only for the 13 states and District of Columbia where t they are in existence, but can also serve as a template for other states in designing similar programs. 

Click HERE to download the full report.

Tax Credit Programs


Arizona Tax Credits for Education

(began 1998)




Tax Incentive


Student Scholarships

Personal dollar-for-dollar non-refundable tax credit for state tax liability for contributions to non-profit organizations that grant scholarships for private school tuition.


Taxpayers may claim a tax credit of up to $500 for a cash contribution of up to $500 to a nonprofit Student Tuitioning Organization (STO)  that distributes scholarships; credit for married couples may be matched up to $1,000.



 Average scholarship award is about $1,900.

In the current school year approximately $28 million dollars in aid was awarded to 21,000 students in 300 private schools.

Personal matching credit for contributions to a public school for extracurricular programs


Taxpayers may claim up to $250. non-refundable credit.


Students must qualify for free/reduced price lunch program; may receive scholarship valued at $4,200. for elementary and $5,500 for secondary school tuition

Corporate tax credit added in 2006


Corporations may claim credit for contributions to STOs—total program is capped at $5m annually




Florida Corporate Income Tax Scholarship Program

(began 2002)





Tax Incentive


Student Scholarships

Corporate income tax credit for contribution to Scholarship funding Organizations (SFOs)


Corporations may contribute up to 75 percent of the amount their tax due. Contributions are capped at $5 million to any single scholarship funding organization and there is an $88 million overall cap annually.



Student eligibility based on free/reduced price lunch income criteria; student must be enrolled in public school before transferring or be entering kindergarten.

Scholarship grants of up to $3500 may be awarded but cannot exceed tuition costs; at least 75%  must be used for tuition; remainder for books and transportation.



Georgia Tax Credits for Student Scholarship Organizations

Enacted 2008




Tax Incentive


Student Scholarships

Credit on both personal and corporate state income taxes for donations to Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs).


Individual taxpayers contributing to SSOs may claim a dollar-for-dollar credit of up to $1,000, and married couples filing jointly may claim up to $2,500.


Corporate taxpayers may claim a dollar-for-dollar credit worth up to 75 percent of the taxpayer’s total tax liability. The program is capped at $50 million in tax credits per year, adjusted upwards for inflation annually until 2018.


In 2009-10, the program served approximately 1,900 students at about 400 schools

SSOs may determine the amount of each scholarship; the amount is capped at the average state and local expenditures


All Georgia students enrolled in public schools are eligible to receive scholarships, as well as students who are eligible to enroll in pre-K, kindergarten, or first grade. 

Privately run non-profit organizations distribute private school scholarships


Taxpayers may not make contributions earmarked for a particular child or school


SSOs may set their own eligibility guidelines.



Illinois Educational Expenses Tax Credits

(began 2000)


Program Description


Tax Incentive


Student Impact

Non refundable personal tax credits for educational expenses to parents of children in public, private or parochial schools


Parents may reduce their state income tax bill by 25 percent for every $250 of whatever they spend for their children's tuition, books and lab fees. In order to be eligible for the maximum tax credit of $500, parents must spend at least $2,250.


Approximately 190,000 families have claimed $67 million in tax credits



Indiana - School Scholarship Tax Credit Program

Enacted 2009




Tax Incentive


Student Scholarships

Tax credit against state tax liability equal to 50 percent of a contribution to Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs)

The tax credit is extended to both individuals and corporations.



There is no limit on the dollar amount of the tax credit that can be claimed, although the total amount of tax credits awarded statewide is limited to $5 million.


Scholarships granted to low-income students who live in a household with an annual income of not more than 200 percent of the amount required to qualify for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program


Students must have been or are currently enrolled in a participating school, and;

Each SGO determines the amount of the scholarship it distributes.




Iowa Tax Credits for Educational Expenses

(began 1987, expanded in 1996, 1998 and 2006)


Program Description


Tax Incentive


Student Impact

Tax credit up to $250. per family for educational expenses for students in public or private schools.  Expenses include tuition, books, fees


Parents are allowed to claim a tax credit of up to 25% of the first $1,000 for each dependent's acceptable education expenses – not to exceed $250.


In 2003, about $13 million was claimed by 102,000 families; approximately 15,000 families have claimed to maximum credit;

Educational Opportunities Act  (EOA) of 2006 established a tax credit for individual who make contributions to an approved school tuition organizations (STOs), which then distribute scholarships to families to be used at a school of their choice



65 percent tax credit


To qualify for scholarships, families must have an income that is at 300 percent or below of the federal poverty level.  STOs must spend 90% of funds raised on scholarships, scholarships may not exceed tuition at the child’s private school. The program will be capped at $2.5 million for 2006 then rise to $5 million for subsequent years.



Louisiana - Elementary and Secondary School Tuition Deduction

Enacted 2008





Tax Incentive


Student Scholarships

Personal tax deduction for educational expenses.


The deduction is worth 100 percent of the total amount spent on tuition, fees and other eligible expenses. It is capped at $5,000 per child.



 Student Eligibility

All K-12 Louisiana students are eligible.

Expenses may  include private school tuition and fees as well as uniforms, textbooks, curricular materials, and any school supplies required by the school

The deduction also includes tuition and fees at university-run “lab schools,” as well as educational expenses for public schools and home school students.




Families Participating: 92,707 (2009)

Average Deduction: $2,621 (2009)



Minnesota Tax Credit and Tax Deduction Program

(began 1997)


Program Description


Tax Incentive


Student Impact

A tax deduction school expenses


Deduction is worth 100% of amount spend on educational expenses, up to $1,625 K-6 school expenses and up to $2,500 for grades 7-12. Deduction included tuition expenses.


In 2004, families claimed about $13.2 in deductions.

A refundable tax credit worth up to $1,000 per student or $2,000 per family for families with incomes under $33,500; no credit is allowed for education-related expenses for claimants with income greater than $37, 500.


Eligible education expenses include textbooks, transportation, computer hardware and education software costs up to $200, summer camps and summer school. It does not cover the cost of tuition. If a family owes no taxes or owes less than the amount of the credit, they receive the difference as a refund.


In 2004, families claimed about $16 million in credits.


Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarships

Enacted 2011; begins operation with the 2013 Taxable Year



Tax Incentive

Student Scholarships

Provides a tax credit to individuals and corporations that donate to organizations providing “Opportunity Scholarships” to students.

The allowable tax credit is 50 percent of the amount of contributions made during a taxable year, up to $1,000 for single individuals, $2,000 for married couples, and $100,000 for corporations.


Students are eligible for scholarships if they come from families with income under 300% of the threshold for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program, or if they live in the attendance zone for a “needs improvement” school.




Scholarships are worth the greater of $5,000 or 80% of the average local public schools' per-pupil expenditures.

Special needs students can receive up to $25,000 per year.



Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program

(passed 2001, expanded four times)


Program Description


Tax Incentive


Student Scholarship

Businesses can receive up to 75% tax credit for a one-year donation to a state approved scholarship organization for K-12 scholarships


The corporate credit increased to 90% for a two-year donation.  A federal deduction for the gift is also permitted.  The state currently caps the annual budget tax credits at $75 million with $44.6 million going to scholarships and $22.3 million going to educational improvement organizations.


Corporations can give up to $300,000 a year.



Eligibility to receive a scholarship is income based.  Families must earn $72,000 or less with one child to be eligible.


With each additional child, the maximum income goes up $12,000, in other words, $84,000 with two children, $96,000 with three children and so on.


Approximately 40,000 students a year receive grants.  In 2011, there were 250 scholarship organizations. 


Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program for Pre-K

(Law passed in 2003)


Program Description


Tax Incentive


Student Scholarship

Corporations can give up to $150,000 a year and receive a 100% tax credit for the first $10,000 and 90% for the remainder of the gift.


Full amount of the gift is deductible for federal tax purposes.


There is $8 million set in the state budget for Pre-K.


Same income requirements as K-12 program. 

Pennsylvania  Educational Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program

(passed 2012)


Program Description


Tax Incentive


Student Scholarship

Corporations may contribute to organizations providing scholarships to students eligible to attend public schools that rank among the bottom 15 percent on state achievement tests. Up to 90 percent of a contribution can qualify for a tax credit, with a maximum credit per business of $400,000 the first year and $750,000 each year thereafter. The total aggregate amount of all tax credits is capped at $50 million annually.


Up to 90 percent of a contribution can qualify for a tax credit, with a maximum credit per business of $400,000 the first year and $750,000 each year thereafter. The total aggregate amount of all tax credits is capped at $50 million annually.


Family income must be  at or below an annual income threshold, which in the program’s first year is $60,000 plus $12,000 for each dependent. In subsequent years, increases to $75,000/$15,000, with both amounts adjusted upwards for inflation each year after that. Scholarships are worth a maximum of $8,500. For students with disabilities, the income eligibility base is adjusted upward and scholarships are worth a maximum of $15,000.




Rhode Island Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations

(effective January 2007)


Program Description 


Tax Incentive


Student Scholarship 

Corporations can receive a 75% tax credit for contributions to scholarhsip granting organizations.


The incentive increases to 90% with pledges for multiple year contributions.
Each corportation is restricted to no more than $100,000 annual credit and the total fund has  a $1 million annual cap.