Senator Huffman announced this week his plans to introduce a bill that would create the Ohio Opportunity Scholarship Program, which would consolidate the EdChoice, Income-Based and Cleveland scholarship programs into one program with eligibility based solely on income.
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Who would be eligible?
Any student entering grades K-12 with a family income below 400% of federal poverty guidelines would be eligible to apply. Currently, 400 percent of federal poverty guidelines for a family of four is $98,400.
How much would the scholarships be worth?
Scholarships would be worth up to $5,000 for students in grades K-8 and up to $7,500 for high school students.
Students with a family income of less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines would receive the full scholarship. Scholarships awarded to students whose family income is above 200% of poverty would be calculated on a sliding scale. At 400% of federal poverty guidelines (the max for the program), students would be receiving a scholarship worth half the maximum amount.
How many scholarships would be available?
There would be no cap on the number of scholarships that would be available.
What would the application process look like?
Families would apply directly to the Ohio Department of Education to receive a certificate of eligibility. They would take that certificate and “shop” for the participating private school that is the best fit for their child.
How would the ESA component work?
If the student had any remaining scholarship funds available after paying tuition, they could place them in an Education Savings Account. Families could use the money in the account toward future education expenses.
This could be used toward tuition if, for example, their high school tuition rate is more than the student’s scholarship amount. Students would also be able to use funds toward higher education costs at an Ohio college or university.
What accountability measures are included in the bill?
All participating private schools would be required to be chartered by the state of Ohio. All scholarship recipients would be required to take state assessments. Those assessment results would be distributed based on both proficiency and value-added.
How would this program be funded?
The program would be funded directly from the foundation amount. This would eliminate the “district deduct.”
What if my child already receives a scholarship?
Current recipients of an EdChoice, Income-Based or Cleveland Scholarship would be grandfathered into the new program, along with their family members. The program’s income requirements would not apply to those students, and they would receive a scholarship for the full amount of $5,000 for K-8 and $7,500 for high school.
Does this bill impact the special needs scholarships?
There would be no impact on the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program or the Autism Scholarship Program.
What would happen to the existing scholarship programs?
The Ohio Opportunity Scholarship would replace the EdChoice, Income-Based and Cleveland Scholarship programs. Those programs would no longer exist, and current recipients of those scholarships would be grandfathered into the new program.
The Jon Peterson Special Needs Program and the Autism Scholarship Program would continue to be options for Ohio families.