4 Key Takeaways from Ohio's Recent Change in School Choice Legislation
by Chris Steinmann, Superintendent & CEO
Cleveland Lutheran High School Association
August 10, 2021
Ohio helped to pioneer our nation's School Choice movement with the creation of the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program in 1995. Now known as the Cleveland Scholarship, this program of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) helped students who live in the City of Cleveland to attend a private school of their choice and receive a state-funded scholarship to defray the cost of tuition. Since then, Ohio has consistently added more School Choice options for families, empowering tens of thousands of parents to choose the educational environment that best suits the individual needs of their children. When Governor DeWine signed Ohio's new two-year budget in early July 2021, it ushered in a new set of School Choice options. Northeast Ohio families should be aware of the following four key takeaways:
The majority of families in Northeast Ohio now qualify for an Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Scholarship to attend a private school. All students who live in the City of Cleveland are eligible to receive the Cleveland Scholarship. Students whose assigned public school is rated in the bottom 20% of the State of Ohio’s official rankings are eligible for an EdChoice Scholarship. Families whose income is at or below 250% of federal poverty guidelines are eligible for an EdChoice Expansion Scholarship. To quantify the EdChoice Expansion Scholarship qualification criteria, a family of four with an income at $66,250 or below would qualify. There are also scholarships available for students with autism or other documented disabilities.*
Ohio families who receive School Choice Scholarships will now see more of their tuition paid for by the state. With the July 2021 budget change, Ohio raised the value of these scholarships at the high school level from $6,000 to $7,500. At the K-8 level, the scholarship increased to $5,500. This increase in funding for each student will lower tuition bills for most families who choose a private school option.
Students who live in the City of Cleveland have more educational options than ever. Cleveland residents have long been able to use the Cleveland Scholarship at high schools in the city or in surrounding suburbs. Families now have the ability to use that same Cleveland Scholarship at K-8 private schools in most of Cleveland’s suburbs.
Siblings automatically qualify for EdChoice Scholarships. If a child receives an EdChoice Scholarship, all of their siblings who reside in the same household will automatically qualify for an EdChoice Scholarship in the subsequent year. This change will make it easier for families to send all of their children to their preferred school or school system. As part of this change, all students who are in foster care also receive automatic eligibility.
The Cleveland Lutheran High School Association is grateful to Ohio’s Legislature and Governor DeWine for their strong support of each family being given the opportunity to send their child(ren) to school that meets their individual needs. We applaud our state’s leadership for their commitment to funding students to attend great public, charter, and private schools. Both Lutheran East (grades 9-12) and Lutheran West (grades 6-12) accept the Cleveland Scholarship, the EdChoice Scholarship, and the EdChoice Expansion Scholarship. If you would like more information about those scholarships or how to use them at our schools, please contact our schools’ Admissions Offices: LutheranEast.org/Admissions (Lutheran East in Cleveland Heights) and LutheranWest.com/Admissions (Lutheran West in Rocky River).
* At this time, Lutheran East and Lutheran West do not accept those scholarships, but the schools hope to in the future.