EdChoice upgrade means tuition relief for families

Published 7:57 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2023

By Jim Walker


Free public school education has just been expanded to all private schools.

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Ohio became the seventh state this year to make educational choice a reality for all students which is good news for those who attend or want to attend local private schools like St. Lawrence Elementary and St. Joseph High School in Ironton.

Originally, EdChoice is an Ohio scholarship program that allows students who attend chronically low-performing public schools to receive vouchers that help them afford to attend private schools.

The St. Joseph and St. Lawrence school district is Lawrence County.

“This is a game changer for not only current Ironton Catholic school students but also all other students locally,” said Greg Bryant who works with the EdChoice application process and severs as the school’s athletic director and head baseball coach.

“Everyone will qualify for something if not the full tuition rate. There are a lot of people wo wold love to have their children attend a faith-based school with a great ratio for teacher to student not to mention opportunities to attend college courses in high school as well as participating in extra curricular activities.”

Students attending St. Joseph can participate in sports offered by the school regardless of where they live in Lawrence County. However, if a student chooses to play a sport not offered by St. Joseph, the student may play the sport at the school in their home district.

If an Ironton resident would prefer to play football, the student may attend St. Joseph but still play at Ironton High School or Ironton Middle School.

Persons interested in obtaining an application should contract Bryant at (740) 479-1713, ICS.edchoice@gmail.com or on Facebook. New applicants must contract Bryant and set up an interview for acceptance.

Participating private schools are required to accept the voucher as full tuition for students whose families are at or below 450 percent of the federal poverty level.

Early this month, Governor Mike DeWine approved the expansion of the Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program to all K-12 students in the state.

The program allows students to receive a maximum of $6,165 for K-8 students and $8,407 for high school students annually to attend a private school of their family’s choosing.

Previously, only 28 percent of Ohio students who were zoned to attend chronically low-performing public schools were eligible to participate, which was 36,712 for the 2021-22 school year.

All new first-time EdChoice Expansion applicants must have their income verified by the Office of Non-public Educational Options unless the applicant is eligible based on the sibling criteria. Every family who had a child already at the school must still register, not just new applicants.

Conditional approval for EdChoice applications is provided within five days of the application being submitted in the online scholarship system.

When applying for an EdChoice Expansion scholarship as a new applicant, the total household gross must be at or below 450 percent of the Federal Poverty guidelines (see chart).

Scholarship families with a total gross household income at or below 450 percent of the Federal Poverty guidelines for low-income status means the private school cannot charge these families for any tuition that is not covered by the scholarship.

Scholarship families with a total gross income at 751 percent or higher according to the Federal Poverty guidelines are responsible for paying any tuition differences not covered by the scholarship.

The program has been in effect since 2005 and it was expanded in 2013 with guideline adjustments this year.

2023-24 EdChoice Income Eligibility Requirements

Here is the 2023-24 Income Eligibility requirements for EdChoice Expansion base on the Adjusted Gross Income of a family’s household and the amount of tuition that will be paid:

Federal Poverty Award Amount For Award Amount For

Level Grades K-8 Grades 9-12

0-450% $6,165 $8,407

451-500% $5,200 $7,050

501-550% $3,650 $5,000

551-600% $26,00 $3,550

601-650% $1,850 $2,500

651-700% $1,300 $1,750

701-750% $900 $1,250

751-Higher% $650 $950