In this photo taken Aug. 8, 2017, Megan Mitchum decorates the outside of a classroom in preparation for the start of the school year at the Mountain View Christian Schools in Las Vegas. More than a third of U.S. states have created school voucher programs that bypass thorny constitutional and political issues by turning them over to non-profits that rely primarily on businesses to fund them. But the programs are raising questions about transparency and accountability at a time when supporters are urging that it be expanded into a federal program. (AP Photo/John Locher)

An array of different kinds of school voucher programs

August 11, 2017 - 3:13 am

LAS VEGAS (AP) — More than half the country has a school choice program that enables families to use public money to send their children to private school.

The programs vary by name, structure and eligibility requirements, but most are geared toward low-income families.

In 2015, less than 1 percent of children in kindergarten through high school used vouchers to attend private schools.

A look at some of the different types of school choice programs:



State money in a per-student amount is reallocated and given to a chosen private school where the child is accepted. That money would have otherwise been given to the public neighborhood school that holds the responsibility to educate the student.

The only federal voucher program is in the District of Columbia.



The programs generally allow private nonprofit groups to solicit taxpayers, primarily businesses, to contribute to their scholarship fund in exchange for state tax credits. The money is considered a charitable donation and the state deducts the amount, sometimes dollar-for-dollar, from the contributor's tax bill. Families can then apply for a scholarship and the private nonprofits pay the private schools directly. States' roles are deliberately limited to get around restrictions on using public money for private schools.



Public funds are placed in a government-administered "savings account" that families can use to pay for a wide range of education costs, from tuition and tutoring to transportation and textbooks.


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