What are the eligibility requirements for a voucher?
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 requirement (information in the chart below in What are the voucher household income limits for the 2014-2015 school year?)
AND MEET AT LEAST ONE OF THE FOLLOWING
- Child attended public school the full previous school year AND entering 1st grade or higher
- Child is assigned to an "F" public school for the 2014-2015 school year
- Child has a sibling who received a voucher or tax credit scholarship in the 2013-2014 school year
- Child received a tax credit scholarship from an approved SGO in the 2013-2014 school year. Approved SGOs are listed below:
- Educational Choice Charitable Trust
- The Lutheran Scholarship Granting Organization of Indiana
- Sagamore Institute
- School Scholarship Granting Organization of Northeast Indiana
- Received a voucher in any previous school year
- Child has an IEP or ISP
What are the voucher household income limits for the 2014-2015 school year?
|Re-Applying for a Voucher/Special Needs***|
|For each additional
family member, add:
To determine household size and respective income limits, include the following:
- Other relatives and unrelated people who live in your household
Any misrepresentations of household income could affect the student's eligibility.Adjusted gross income should be used when determining income.
* 90% of funding in corporation of residence. This is the same income cap as the Federal Reduced Lunch Program
** 50% of funding in corporation of residence. This is based on 150% of the cap for Reduced Lunch
*** 200% Federal Free and Reduced Lunch. Income levels are based on Adjusted Gross Income for the household
How is the amount of the voucher determined?
The scholarship is the lesser of the following amounts:
- Tuition and fees
- $4,800 (for grades 1-8 only)
- An amount based off of the funding the state gives per student to your local school corporation, determined as follows:
- LARGE VOUCHER = 90% of funding the public school would receive from the state IF the family income falls withing 100% of the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
- EXAMPLE: Family of four that makes up to $42,643
- SMALL VOUCHER = 50% of funding the public school would receive from the state IF the family income falls within 199% of the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
- EXAMPLE: Family of four makes up to $63,964
- SPECIAL NEEDS VOUCHER = 90% of funding the public school would receive from the state IF the family income falls within 100% of the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
- EXAMPLE: Family of four that makes up to $85,286
If my child currently receives special education services, will we receive additional funding to meet this student's needs in the participating school?
Yes. In the 2013 General Assembly, a law was passed to allow special needs dollars to follow the student to the parents' preferred school of choice provided the school can meet the child's needs.
Who is responsible for determining whether a child is eligible?
The private school you're interested in having your child attend is responsible for determining whether the student meets the eligibility requirements.
As part of being "eligible," the school must have enrolled (or agree to enroll) the student and may do so on condition of the student receiving a voucher.
Rules for household income sources that should be included (and excluded) will be provided to the school and to the public via the Department of Education's website.
Make sure you provide copies of documents requested by the school since these records may be inspected by the Department of Education (for purposes of the voucher program only).
What about kindergarten students?
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. You should also read carefully any agreement you sign with the school. The school's policies may include language requiring payment regardless of whether a voucher is awarded.
How will the payment process work? Is there anything I need to do?
The voucher award is designated for the student, but will be distributed directly to the school. The parent/guardian plays a very important role in the payment process. Provided the student has been approved for a voucher, the school will provide you a "distribution endorsement" that both you and the school must sign twice a school year (one per semester). This form will instruct the state to provide payment to the school on your behalf, as part of your education choice. Without the completed form, the state will not make any payments.
Can I apply to the Department of Education for a voucher before being accepted to the school?
No. The parent must apply for a voucher through the participating voucher school once the child is accepted into the school. That is the only way to receive a voucher.
Can I submit multiple voucher applications in case I change my mind about what school I would like my child to attend?
No. The Department of Education will only accept one voucher application per student per school year. You must be certain that the school you apply for a voucher is the school you want your child to attend for the school year, or else you risk losing the voucher altogether.
Can the school discriminate in its application process?
The school may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Participating schools are also not allowed to set admission standards for voucher students that are higher than the standards used for the rest of their students.
If the number of students applying for a scholarship to a school exceed the number of "scholarship seats" available, the school must conduct a random drawing at a public meeting. Individual schools will have their own process in place to comply with this requirement.
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 and the new school participates in the program. However, the student cannot change schools during the year and use a voucher to attend the second school.
Can a student receive a voucher after the school year has already begun?
Voucher applications should be submitted to the Department of Education by the school no later than September 1st for the 2014-2015 school year.
What if I am a foster parent and would like the foster child to receive a voucher? Will our household income be included?
No. Under current state procedures, foster children are directly certified 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).
What if I choose to homeschool my child? Can s/he receive a voucher? Would our family be eligible for a tax deduction?
Homeschool students are not eligible for the voucher program. 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. Additionally, homeschool parents could be eligible for a tax credit scholarship to attend a private school.
What exactly is a tax credit scholarship?
Individuals and/or corporations get a tax credit for making donations to private charitable organizations, which use the money to fund scholarships for students. These scholarships can cover the cost of private school tuition, tutoring, and transportation. In some states, students must meet certain income criteria to be eligible for scholarships. Scholarship granting organizations can be started by community groups, philanthropic organizations or any other group that wants to extend school choice to children. Participating private schools are required to meet standards for safety, fiscal soundness, and non-discrimination.
What are the student-based requirements for a tax credit scholarship?
- Resident of Indiana AND
- Family meets the household income limits of 200% or below the Free or Reduced Lunch Program ($88,245 or less for a family of four)
Does the 'public school in the previous school year' requirement specifically mean an Indiana school?
For the voucher program: The statute (20-51-1-4.5) is clear that the school must be an Indiana public school.
For a tax credit scholarship: No. IC 20-51-1-5 says only that the school must be a "public school." As long as the student has legal residence in Indiana at the time he/she applies for the tax credit scholarship, the SGO may provide one (assuming the other requirements are met).
Does household income need to be re-verified by the SGO under the tax credit scholarship program?
Only if the period during which a student receives an SGO scholarship is interrupted. In other words, if the student receives an SGO scholarship in grade 2, income would not need to be re-verified if the SGO provided the student a scholarship for grade 3. However, if the student attended grade 3 without a tax credit scholarship, income would need to be re-verified for grade 4.
Could a student utilize a tax credit scholarship for the 2014-2015 school year and then be eligible for a voucher for the 2015-2016 school year?
Yes, provided the student meets the household income requirements.
Could a student who receives a voucher also receive a tax credit scholarship?
Yes. A student who meets the requirements for a voucher could qualify for a tax credit scholarship as well, provided that the combination of the two does not exceed tuition and fees.