Good news for parents and guardians who want to send their children to private schools: the Ohio EdChoice program has been expanded to include nearly all K-12 students in the state. Read on to learn the history of the program, what’s changed, and how you can take advantage of this to lower your household’s education expenditures.
Ohio EdChoice History
The Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Program, which was established in 2005 and expanded in 2013, has provided scholarships to students to attend private schools. The first iteration of the program was targeted geographically at students who were going to underperforming public schools and wanted to switch to private schools. The first adjusted version was based on income for students whose family income was at or below 250% of the federal poverty guideline being eligible to apply.
In the most recent Ohio state budget, the EdChoice program was expanded to all Ohio residents attending K-12 private schools. The full scholarship amount of $6,165 for grade K-8 students and $8,407 for grade 9-12 students is available to students whose families’ income is at or below 450% of the Federal Poverty Level ($135,000 for a family of four), with the scholarship value decreasing as the family’s income increases until it reaches 750% of the Federal Poverty Level, at which point the grades K-8 scholarship is $650 and grades 9-12 scholarship is $950. The scholarship amounts are listed in Table 1 below, while Table 2 shows the income totals for various Federal Poverty Level thresholds by the number of members in a household.
The scholarship can be renewed every year through 12th grade, provided the student continues to be a resident of Ohio, takes all the required assessments, and doesn’t have more than 20 unexcused absences for the school year.
Applying for the Scholarship
Applications for Ohio EdChoice Expansion Scholarship opened February 1, 2023, and will remain open until June 30, 2024. If an application is submitted after October 14, 2023, the scholarship will be awarded at a prorated amount based on how much of the school year is remaining after the student’s enrollment in the private school.
Students must have applied to and been accepted to a participating private school before submitting a scholarship application through the school. A full list of the participating private schools can be found on the Ohio Department of Education’s Scholarship Dashboard page.
To apply, you’ll need to provide the student’s birth certificate, a copy of current proof of residence, and the Scholarship Request Form. If you’re a first-time EdChoice applicant, you’ll need to have your income verified by the Office of Nonpublic Educational Options. The scholarships are awarded based on the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of a family’s household. Keep in mind, your AGI can be reduced by actions such as contributing to a Health Savings Account, contributing to an IRA or other retirement savings plan, or by deducting Student Loan Interest payments. These are topics our tax planning department is well versed in, if you need help. Income verification is not necessary for families renewing the scholarship unless they would like to have their household income recalculated to adjust the award amount.
Additional EdChoice Considerations
What about additional education-related expenses?
Take note that the scholarship only covers tuition costs; if there are registration fees or fees for materials, technology, or recreational activities those costs can’t be covered by the scholarship.
What if my family has low-income status?
If your family qualifies for low-income status (at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guideline), then you are not required to cover any remaining tuition that is not paid for by the scholarship.
How soon will I know if my student’s scholarship has been approved?
You will receive conditional approval of your application within five days of the application being submitted by the participating private school. The full review of the application will take place within 14 days. If there are any issues with your application, the private school will be notified, and you can reach out to them to resolve any problems with the application. After being accepted, an award letter and acceptance form will be mailed to the parent or guardian of the student & regular schedule of scholarship awards will be determined.
How do I receive the scholarship monies?
The monies go directly to your participating school. The school will then reduce the amount of tuition you owe them by the amount they received from the scholarship funds.
Matt Calme CFP®
Outside of his career, Matt enjoys playing guitar, working out, and following his favorite sports teams: Cincinnati Bengals, FC Cincinnati, and Georgia Bulldogs.