Growth In Louisiana-Funded Private School Programs Slowing
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The growth in two Louisiana programs that pay for private school tuition with public money is slowing, but they still pay full or partial tuition for nearly 9 percent of the students attending private school in the state.
The Louisiana Scholarship Program, known as the voucher program, and the Tuition Donation Rebate program were created by the Legislature in 2012. The Advocate reports six out of 10 private schools in Louisiana are using at least one program.
In 2017-18, the programs added about 300 students each, boosting participation to more than 9,200 children.
To be eligible, a family can earn no more than 250 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $62,750 annually for a family of four. About 47 percent of families in Louisiana earn less than that threshold.
After rapid growth in its first two years, the voucher program has hovered around 7,000 children annually for the past few years. The program's growth is limited, tied to an annual legislative appropriation that has remained about $40 million a year for the past few years.
As voucher growth has slowed, Louisiana's education department has increasingly turned to the Tuition Donation Rebate program as an alternative to support private school education. That program has grown to about 2,000 students.
The rebate program relies on the tax system to direct money to private schools.
Donors underwrite a portion of a child's private school tuition and later get back 95 cents for every dollar they give. They can write the whole thing off as a charitable donation on their federal taxes. Student tuition organizations administer the rebate program for the state.