Tax season is a great reminder to review budgets and plan for upcoming expenses, like your child’s tuition. While we all want our tax dollars to make an impact, Indiana families can rest assured that their taxes are well spent with the Indiana Choice Scholarship. Originally created in 2011, the state-run program gives Indiana families the choice to send their child to a school that best meets their needs and allows them to offset tuition at a private school if they feel that is the best fit. The Indiana Choice Scholarship Program allows you to use your own tax dollars toward tuition at a Choice school so you can plan for college and beyond.
Every family deserves the opportunity to choose where to send their child to school without financial restriction, and Indiana has one of the most generous school choice programs in the country. It’s so accessible, in fact, that nearly 80% of Hoosier families qualify for the scholarship, which covers the majority of tuition at non-public schools, including schools within the Catholic Diocese of Gary.
Despite the common misconception about the cost to attend, Catholic schools, one of the main non-public school options in Northwest Indiana, can be affordable for families at all income levels and welcome families of all religious backgrounds. The Indiana Choice Scholarship can go a long way to offset the cost of tuition at a Catholic school, if not fund it entirely. In most cases, the Indiana Choice Scholarship covers 100% of the tuition at a Catholic elementary school and roughly 75% of the tuition at a Catholic high school in Northwest Indiana.
So, how do families qualify for an Indiana Choice Scholarship? There are a few requirements in addition to being an Indiana resident, such as meeting the income requirement and one of the eight eligibility tracks. Here are some things to consider:
To be eligible, a student must meet all of the following requirements:
• Be a resident of Indiana
• Be accepted for enrollment at a participating Choice school in Indiana
• Be between the ages of 5 and 22 (by no later than August 1 of the school year)
• Meet the income requirements (see chart below)
In addition to the income requirement, a student must also meet an eligibility pathway. There are eight eligibility pathways, or tracks, families can possibly meet to qualify for the Indiana Choice Scholarship.
- Two semesters in a public school (two semesters at an Indiana K-12 public school prior to receiving an Indiana Choice Scholarship).
- Previous Indiana Choice Scholarship
- The student received an Indiana Choice Scholarship in a previous school year. (Does not have to have been the school year immediately preceding the current year. There can be gaps between years on the Indiana Choice Scholarship.)
- The student has a sibling who received either an Indiana Choice Scholarship or an SGO scholarship at any time in their K-12 education.
- Previous Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO)
- The student received a SGO scholarship in a previous school year. (Does not have tohave been the school year immediately preceding the current year.)
- “F” Public School
- The student is assigned to an “F-Rated” public school based on their residence for the upcoming school year.
- The student received and used an Early Education Grant (like the state-funded “On My Way” Pre-K scholarship) and is attending kindergarten at the same school that they attended preschool.
- Special Education
- The student has a disability that requires special education services and has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individual Service Plan (ISP).
- Foster Care
- The student is in foster care or is a foster child. (This is the only track that does not require meeting the income requirement.)
Most Choice schools, especially the schools within the Catholic Diocese of Gary, are very eager to help your family find a pathway to earn an Indiana Choice Scholarship and have access to SGO funds, which can be used to provide families with an onramp to help families meet an eligibility pathway.
If you would like to check if your family meets the qualifications for the very accessible Indiana Choice Scholarship, please visit NWIChoiceScholar.org.
This tax season, make sure your tax dollars are working for you and find out if your family qualifies for the Indiana Choice Scholarship. The savings now can add up over the years, allowing you to save for future higher education costs.