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New budget in Indiana includes ‘major school-choice expansion’

This and similar legislation passed by other U.S. states have “cemented 2023’s status as the biggest year ever for school choice,” said education policy researcher Jason Bedrick.

Indiana State Capitol, in Indianapolis. Credit: Steffen Wurzel via Wikimedia Commons.
Indiana State Capitol, in Indianapolis. Credit: Steffen Wurzel via Wikimedia Commons.

When Indiana passed its budget on April 28, one of the things for which the state set funding aside in fiscal years 2024 and 2025 is what it calls “choice scholarships,” its version of school vouchers.

Jason Bedrick, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, told JNS that Indiana’s budget features “a major school-choice expansion.”

“More than 95% of kids will be eligible for their voucher now,” said Bedrick.

Previously, scholarships were available to families that earned three times the threshold to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch programs, while the new vouchers expand that to 400%, which is 740% of the federal poverty level. That means that families with joint incomes of about $220,000 or less can qualify for the program, which currently funds students at an average annual rate of $5,500.

“Indiana has just taken a major step toward empowering every family to choose the learning environment that aligns with their values and works best for their children,” said Bedrick.

The development in Indiana—the fifth state to debut school choice this year—has “cemented 2023’s status as the biggest year ever for school choice,” he said, with Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Oklahoma “poised to make significant progress” in the same regard.

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