Indiana private school vouchers hit record with 70,000 students, nearly half-billion dollar cost

Enrollment in Indiana’s private-school voucher program surged to 70,095 students in 2023-24. That’s a 31 percent increase compared to the previous year, the largest ever jump in a single year.

The state paid $439 million in tuition grants to private parochial or non-religious schools — 40 percent more than in 2022-23, according to a new state report.

The jump in voucher use comes after nearly every Indiana family became eligible to receive a voucher. A 2023 law repealed most requirements for students, such as previous enrollment in a public school, and it allows upper-income families to use public money to help pay for a private-school education. A family of four making $222,000 qualified for the Choice Scholarship Program in the recent school year.

The program's expansion is a direct result of the Indiana Statehouse Republican supermajority’s efforts to expand policies that allow families to choose what they believe is the best school, or type of school, for their children.

Researcher R. Joseph Waddington, who studies Indiana’s school choice systems, said the monumental growth is not surprising.

“Without question, a lot of the enrollment growth in the voucher program is a result of that increase in income eligibility,” said Waddington, the director of Program Evaluation and Research at University of Notre Dame. 

The number of families who earn more than $200,000 a year and receive vouchers increased nearly tenfold. The report does not detail how many of these families were already attending a private school and became eligible for a voucher in the past year. 

“But there is growth in other parts of the program as well, even for lower income families,” Waddington said. 

The number of participating families earning less than $100,000 grew by 14 percent from year to year. 


But critics have long argued that voucher programs divert taxpayer funds away from public schools, shifting money into private schools that are not held to the same transparency and reporting standards as traditional public or charter schools. 

As Indiana has expanded its voucher program to more high-income families, critics also contend that the state is paying tuition for students who would have attended private school without a voucher.

The report shows roughly 67.5 percent of students using a voucher have no record of prior attendance at an Indiana public school in 2023-24 — an increase of around almost 4 percentage points from the previous year.

The head of the Indiana State Teachers Association said he was "deeply concerned" about the growth of the private school voucher program in the last year.

"This expansion, extending vouchers to wealthier families, funnels public funds to those who can already afford private schools. This shift adds a financial burden on the state without reducing public school costs, undermining claims of state savings," Keith Gambill, president of the state’s largest teachers’ union, said in a statement. "Instead of helping wealthy families attend private schools at the expense of public school kids, we should be investing these tax dollars in our public schools."

TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE, GO TO:  Indiana private school vouchers hit record with 70,000 students, nearly half-billion dollar cost (


From  Eric Weddle, WLFI, May 24, 2024