Iowa school vouchers program exceeding expectations

Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 12:49 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (WOWT) - The State of Iowa has approved more than 4,500 school voucher applications than initially estimated for the program — and still has more to process.

The new school savings accounts give eligible students nearly $7,600 in state funding to pay for private school tuition.

The Department of Education said they’ve approved 18,627 students for the program — and that around a thousand applications are still being processed.

The legislative analysis projected 14,068 students in the first year of the program. The increase means the program will likely exceed the $107 million estimate. Since school funding in Iowa is determined by student enrollment, it will also have a bigger impact on public schools than expected.

In Pottawattamie County, 383 students were approved for the program. Neighboring counties where there are no public schools still had applicants: 21 from Mills County, 49 from Shelby County, and 10 in Harrison County.

Of Iowa’s 99 counties, three had no approved applications.

While Nebraska doesn’t have a voucher program, Gov. Jim Pillen in May signed LB753, the “school choice bill” that authorizes $25 million in tax credits for those who donate scholarships to private schools across the state. A few days later, a coalition of organizations including public schools groups began a petition drive to put the matter on the state ballot.

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.