DeWine expands school choice scholarship program for low-income kids

DeWine expands school choice scholarship program for low-income kids

Gov. Mike DeWine signed in November a bill to revamp the state’s EdChoice program. This year, students will begin to benefit.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a bill revamping the state’s Educational Choice, or EdChoice, program last November – expanding the opportunity for students in low-performing schools to receive a better education. Students will begin to see the benefits of the expansion this year.

Senate Bill 89, sponsored by Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, expands the EdChoice program, a statewide program that provides tuition scholarships for students from low-performing public schools and low-income households to attend private schools as an alternative.

SB 89 makes several changes to the program’s eligibility requirements to expand access to the program. For the 2021-2022 school year, any student who received a scholarship during the previous school year is guaranteed a spot and will continue to receive one until they complete the 12th grade, as long as they maintain eligibility.

SB 89 expands access to the program by increasing the family income eligibility level for income-based EdChoice scholarships, raising it to 250% of the poverty line from 200%. The program’s income-based scholarships are available to families regardless of the performance ranking of their public school.

Notably, the law also increases the program’s threshold, based on school performance, to the lowest ranking 20% of schools – as determined by the Ohio Department of Education. Previously, students attending the lowest ranking 10% of schools were eligible for the program.

SB 89 also decreases the number of public schools designated for the EdChoice program’s performance-based scholarships in the upcoming school year to 473 from 1,227 under the previous law.

School choice advocates in Ohio celebrated the EdChoice expansion. “Thank you to [Gov. Mike DeWine]!,” School Choice Ohio tweeted Nov. 27. “The Gov just signed SB 89 expanding EdChoice Scholarships for low-income students.”

The final bill was the product of a compromise and passed the state Senate 24-8 and the House 53-36.

Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said the compromise reflected “the right solution that both supports our public schools and protects educational choice for Ohio’s families.”

To find more information about Ohio’s EdChoice program and learn how to apply, parents can visit the state’s Department of Education page.

Lawmakers in Columbus should continue to expand the EdChoice program to help families with students stuck in low-performing schools – or low-income students without the resources to seek alternative paths to education – find the path to success that works best for them.

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