EdChoice Scholarship Parent FAQs

The Educational Choice Scholarship Program (EdChoice) provides a limited number of scholarships to students who attend persistently under-performing public school buildings. The scholarships may be used to attend chartered nonpublic schools that meet the requirements for program participation.

General Questions

Eligibility Questions

Application Questions

Custody Questions

Destination School Questions

Cost and Income Questions


General Questions

    Will every child that applies to participate be accepted?

    Ohio law limits the number of scholarships awarded to 60,000 statewide. If the total number of eligible new and renewing applications exceeds 60,000, priority will be given first to renewing students, and then to new EdChoice applicants with family incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Students will be selected by lottery to receive any remaining scholarships.

    View additional information on the lottery process.

    Back to Top


    Will my child receive transportation services from the public school district?

    Students enrolled in nonpublic schools may be entitled to pupil transportation services from their public school district of residence. The “30 minute rule” applies – the nonpublic school must be within a 30 minute bus ride from the public school during the school day. The 30 minutes is timed starting from the public school where the student would be assigned. Parents must request transportation from the public school district in writing and specify the student’s name, address and phone number and the name and address of the nonpublic school. In certain cases, a public school district may declare a student “impractical to transport” and instead provide limited reimbursement payment to the parent.

    Find additional information about student transportation services.

    Back to Top


    Are children with disabilities entitled to receive special education services in a non-public (private) school?

    Students enrolled in non-public schools do not have the same right to receive special education services as students in a public school. You should discuss the availability of services with the nonpublic school.

    Back to Top


Eligibility Questions

    Who is eligible to apply for a scholarship?

    Eligibility is determined by attendance and/or assignment to a public school building which has been either: 1) rated in “Academic Emergency” or "Academic Watch" for two of the past three years or 2) ranked in the lowest 10% of public school buildings by performance index score for two of the past three school years. A list of the EdChoice-designated public school buildings can be found by clicking here.

    The following students are eligible to apply for an EdChoice scholarship:

    • Students currently attending their assigned  public school in their resident district that is on the list of designated public schools are eligible to apply.
    • Public school students attending a school in their resident district who will be assigned to one of the designated public schools for the upcoming school year are also eligible to apply.
    • Students currently attending a charter/community school whose assigned home school is an eligible school on our list are also eligible to apply.
    • Students eligible to enter kindergarten for the upcoming school year who would be assigned to one of the designated public schools are also eligible to apply for the scholarship.

    Back to Top


    Is eligibility for this scholarship based on income?

    No, the scholarship is not based on income. EdChoice scholarship eligibility is based on whether or not the student is currently in a situation that makes him eligible for the scholarship (i.e., attending an eligible school or being assigned to attend an eligible school). Income is considered primarily for two reasons: 1) to determine if the parent will have to pay any tuition not covered by the scholarship and 2) to establish priority in the awarding of scholarships if more than 60,000 applications are submitted.

    Back to Top


    My child is currently attending a community school that is rated in Academic Emergency or Academic Watch. Is he eligible to apply for an EdChoice Scholarship?

    In Ohio, “charter” schools – public schools of choice that operate independently of school districts and receive state and federal funds – are called “community schools.” By law, eligibility for an EdChoice Scholarship is based on the status of the public school building to which the student would be assigned in his resident school district if he were not attending a community school. Eligibility is not determined by the rating of the community school. Eligibility is not determined by the rating of the community school. So if your community school student would be assigned to attend an EdChoice-designated school (for the current school year or for the next school year) if he were not attending a community school, then yes, he would be eligible to apply for the scholarship. If he would not be assigned to an EdChoice designated school, then he is not eligible to apply.

    Back to Top


    My child is currently attending a private school, but would otherwise attend one of the buildings on the list. Is she eligible to apply?

    No. Students in grades K-12 who are currently enrolled in private, nonpublic schools are not eligible for Ohio EdChoice scholarships. When the law for the program was passed, the Ohio legislature limited eligibility to those students currently attending an EdChoice-designated public school, to public school students who will be assigned to an EdChoice-designated school next year, to those students currently enrolled in a publicly-funded community (“charter”) school who would otherwise be assigned to an EdChoice-designated public school, and to new kindergartners who would be assigned to an EdChoice- designated public school.

    Note: A student who is currently attending preschool at a private school might still be eligible for the scholarship. It depends on where the student is assigned for kindergarten by the school district. If the preschooler would be assigned to an eligible school for kindergarten, then the student is eligible to apply for EdChoice.

    Back to Top


    My child is currently attending an EdChoice-designated school building in Columbus but we do not live in the Columbus Public School District. Is he still eligible for the scholarship?

    No, the student is not eligible for an EdChoice scholarship. The student must be enrolled in and attending an EdChoice- designated school in his residential district. Students of parents who choose to open enroll them into an EdChoice- designated school but do not live in that public school district (e.g., Columbus Public Schools, Toledo Public Schools, etc.) are not eligible for the EdChoice scholarships.

    Back to Top


    My child is currently attending preschool at a private school. Is he eligible for the scholarship?

    It depends on where your preschooler is assigned to attend kindergarten. If your preschooler is assigned to an eligible school for kindergarten by the district and that school is not closing, then yes, he is eligible to apply for the scholarship.

    Back to Top


    My child is entering Kindergarten next year. Is he eligible for the scholarship?

    If your child would be assigned to attend kindergarten at a school on the list and that school is not closing, he is eligible to apply for an EdChoice scholarship.

    Back to Top


    My child is scheduled to start high school in the upcoming year and will be assigned to a high school that is on the list of EdChoicedesignated schools. Is he eligible?
    Yes, if your child is currently attending a public school in your resident district, your child will be eligible to apply for an EdChoice scholarship if the school he or she will be assigned to attend next school year is on the list.

    Back to Top


    My child will be attending a joint vocational school for half of the school day. Can he still receive the scholarship?

    Yes. Students who are eligible for the scholarship but plan to attend a joint vocational school may still be able to receive a portion of the EdChoice scholarship. The exact scholarship amount depends on how much time the student will be at the joint vocational school and how much time the student will be at the private school.

    Back to Top


    The school my child is currently attending is scheduled to close at the end of the school year. Is she still eligible for the scholarship?

    As long as the school your child is currently attending is on the list of EdChoice-designated public school buildings and she finishes out the school year at that school, your child is eligible to apply for a scholarship.

    Back to Top


Application Questions

    Can anyone apply for the scholarship for a student?

    No. Only the biological mother, biological father (if married to and living with the biological mother), adoptive parent, residential parent (in cases of divorce) or the legal custodian of the student can apply for the scholarship.

    View the Custody Questions for more information.

    Back to Top


    Are the scholarships first-come, first-served?

    No. All applications received by the end of the application period will be given equal consideration.

    Back to Top


    Should my child apply for a scholarship first, or apply for admission to a nonpublic school first?

    Your child should apply for admission to a participating nonpublic school first. All students who apply for a scholarship must first be accepted for enrollment at a participating nonpublic school.

    Back to Top


    When will applications be accepted for the scholarships?

    The next EdChoice application period will begin in February 1, 2013 and continue through April 19, 2013. New EdChoice students must be admitted for fall 2013 enrollment at a participating chartered nonpublic school. Once a student has been admitted for fall enrollment, the nonpublic school will submit a scholarship application on behalf of the student. Participating nonpublic schools have until April 19, 2013 to submit student applications. The school cannot submit an application until the student is accepted for enrollment. Only one application can be submitted for a student.

    Back to Top


    How do I prove my current address?

    Documents submitted must contain the parent/guardian’s name, current address and the date. The date should be current. Nothing handwritten (e.g., receipts, notes, etc.) will be accepted.

    Back to Top


Custody Questions

    I am the biological father of the student and I am married to the student’s biological mother. Can I apply for the scholarship for my child?

    Yes, you can. If the biological parents of the student are married to each other and live in the same residence together, then either one of them can apply for the scholarship, for the student.

    Back to Top


    I am the biological father of the student. I have been raising her since she was born. I am not married to the biological mother. Can I apply for the scholarship for my daughter?
    No. Although you are the biological father, if you have not gone to court to obtain legal custody of your daughter, you are not considered as the legal custodian. Ohio law states that an unmarried mother is the sole residential parent and legal custodian of the child until otherwise ordered by a court of law. Therefore, if a mother is unmarried when she has the child, anyone else seeking custody of the child- including the father - must go to court to obtain legal custody of the child.

    Back to Top


    Both my adult daughter and her child, my grandson, live with me. Can I apply for EdChoice for my grandson?
    No. Grandparents can only apply for the scholarship if they are the legal custodians of the student

    Back to Top


    My child and I have been living with my boyfriend for four years in his house. Can he apply for the scholarship for my child?
    No. Only the legal custodian can apply for the scholarship. Even if your boyfriend is your child’s biological father, if you two are not married, he cannot apply for the scholarship for your child.

    Back to Top


    My cousin is the biological mother of the student. However, we have no idea where she is or how to find her. Since we cannot find her, I have been raising her son. Can I apply for the scholarship for him?
    No. If you cannot find the biological mother, you need to go to court to obtain legal custody of your cousin’s child so that you are legally able to make decisions for the child. Once you have established legal custody of the child, you can then apply for the scholarship.

    Back to Top


    I am in jail. My mother is taking care of my daughter for me. Can my mother apply for the scholarship for my daughter?
    No. Your mother would first have to establish either legal custody or temporary legal custody of your daughter before she could apply for the scholarship.

    Back to Top


    I have a notarized letter from the student’s mother stating that she wants the student to be in my custody. Is this enough to apply for the scholarship?
    No. Notarized letters do not establish legal custody. Anyone who is not the biological mother must go to court to obtain legal custody of the student.

    Back to Top


    I am the student’s aunt. I have been named his legal custodian by the courts. Can I apply for the scholarship for him?
    Yes, you can. If you have valid court documentation showing that you are the student’s legal custodian, then you can apply for the scholarship for the student if he meets the eligibility criteria.

    Back to Top


    I am the student’s grandfather. I have been his legal custodian for 5 years. His mother is in the process of getting custody back for him in the next few months. Who can apply for the scholarship for him?
    The person who has legal custody of the student at the time of application is the one who can apply for the scholarship. If the mother gains custody of the student a few months after the application period, then she needs to inform both the private school and EdChoice about this at that time so that she can be added as the primary guardian.

    Back to Top


    I am the student’s stepparent. Can I apply for the scholarship for the student?
    No. Stepparents do not automatically have legal rights to a student just because they are married to the student’s biological parent. Only stepparents who have gone to court and obtained legal custody of a student can apply for the scholarship.

    Back to Top


    My husband and I are in the process of getting a divorce. Which of us can apply for the scholarship for our child?
    It depends on who is named as the primary guardian by the courts. In most instances, one parent is designated as the parent of residence. This would be the parent who could apply for the scholarship for the student. If both parents are granted equal rights in all aspects of the child’s welfare, then either parent could apply for the scholarship. However, a copy of the legal document showing equal or shared parenting must be provided at the time of application.

    Back to Top


    I have a “grandparent affidavit” from the courts that gives me the right to enroll my grandchild into school. Can I apply for the scholarship for my grandchild?
    No. A grandparent affidavit is not legal custody. To apply for an EdChoice scholarship, the grandparent must have legal custody of the student.

    Back to Top


    I am a foster parent. Can I apply for the scholarship for my foster child?
    Only foster parents who have at least temporary legal custody of the student can apply for the scholarship. The student’s eligibility depends on what school district is listed on the court documents as being financially responsible for the student’s education.

    Back to Top


    I have legal custody of the student. However, while I live in one school district (e.g., Columbus City SD, Toledo City SD, Cincinnati SD, etc.), the court documents specify that another school district is financially responsible for providing an education for this student. Can I apply for the scholarship for this student?
    Because you have legal custody of the student, you can apply on their behalf. However, the student’s eligibility will not be based on your district of residence; it will be based on the district that the court has deemed as financially responsible for the student’s education.

    Back to Top


    I am in the process of getting legal custody of the student, but I don’t have custody yet. Can I apply for the scholarship for the student?
    No. Only the person who has legal custody of the student can apply for the scholarship. If you do not yet have legal custody, then you cannot apply for the scholarship until you do. You must already have legal custody when you go to the private school to apply for enrollment and to apply for an EdChoice scholarship.

    Back to Top


Destination School Questions

    Can my child attend any nonpublic school?

    Your child must be accepted by a participating chartered nonpublic school. A chartered nonpublic school must meet certain requirements to participate in the EdChoice program.

    • View eligibe participating schools.
    • Click the EdChoice box in the middle of the page.
    • On the Provider Search page, select your county from the drop-down menu.
    • Click the Search button.
    • Click the icon in the Go To column on the far right side of the screen to obtain the address and phone number of a specific private school.

    This list is updated as new schools register to participate.

    Back to Top


    How do I choose a school?

    Choosing a school for your child is a difficult and important decision. It's a good idea to visit a few schools that you are interested in. During your visit, it is important that you have all of the information that you need to make a decision. ODE provides a checklist to take with you when you visit schools. Make copies of the checklist for every shool you visit.

    Back to Top


    What is a Community School?

    Community Schools – often called "charter schools" in other states – are public nonprofit, nonsectarian schools that operate independently of any school district, but under a contract with an authorized sponsoring entity that is established in statue or approved by the State Board of Education. Community schools are public schools of choice and are state and federally funded.

    Back to Top


    Why are there no Cleveland schools on the list of EdChoice Designated schools?

    Students who reside within the Cleveland Municipal School District are not eligible to participate in the EdChoice program. There is a separate Cleveland Scholarship Program for students in that district.

    View information about the Cleveland Scholarship Program.

    Back to Top


Cost and Income Questions

    What is the value of the scholarship?

    The maximum scholarship amount is currently $4,250 for grades K-8 and $5,000 for grades 9-12. The actual scholarship amount will be either the maximum scholarship amount or the tuition amount charged by the private school, whichever is less.

    Back to Top


    Will parents/guardians have to pay any amount of money?

    Parents and guardians may still have to pay registration fees, material fees, and other similar types of fees. The scholarship amount only covers school tuition.

    If the nonpublic school’s tuition is higher than the EdChoice scholarship amount and if the student’s family income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, the family will not have to pay the difference. If the student’s family income is above 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, the family may either pay the tuition difference or participate in volunteer opportunities in lieu of cash payment at the nonpublic school.

    Back to Top


    Am I required to have my income verified by EdChoice to apply for the scholarship?

    No. Income verification is optional; you are not required to do it. You can apply for the scholarship without having your income verified. However, to qualify for low income status, you must have your income verified by the EdChoice Office.

    Back to Top


    If I request low-income status, how will my income be verified?

    To qualify for low income status with EdChoice, you must complete the Income Verification Form and return it, along with supporting income documents, to the address listed on the form by the deadline. Income Verification Forms must be postmarked by the deadline date or they will not be processed.

    Back to Top


    What types of documents may I submit regarding income?

    Submit copies of documents that support the current sources of income that you listed on the Income Verification Form. Sources of income may include:

    • 4 current pay stubs
    • W-2s for the most recent tax cycle
    • 1099 forms
    • Current income tax returns
    • Business records
    • Correspondence from the Social Security Administration, Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, Department of Job and Family Services, and other providers of benefits showing the amount of benefits you are receiving
    • Print out from child support enforcement

    Back to Top


    We haven’t done our taxes yet but we don’t want to miss the deadline. What do we do?
    Current W-2s or pay stubs can be used instead of tax returns. The income verification form and all supporting income documents must be submitted by the deadline each year; no exceptions are given to those who plan to file their taxes late. If EdChoice requires that your tax returns be submitted and you are unable to provide those documents, then you will not be able to have your income verified and therefore cannot qualify for low income status.

    Back to Top


    I don’t have all my documents now. Can I send what I have now and the rest later?
    Yes. You may send what you have at this time; however, the income verification will not be processed until all required documentation is received. ALL documentation must be received by the specified deadline in order to determine if you qualify for low income status. You cannot qualify for low income status without having your income verified.

    Back to Top


    Whose income must be documented?
    Income verification is required of those whose earned income and/or benefits support the household.

    Back to Top


    My child works. Do we need to submit his/her income?
    No. Minors are exempt from documenting earned income/wages if they are in school full time.

    Back to Top


    I haven’t received or have lost my W-2. Can I use my pay stub?
    Yes, but include at least 2 to 4 current pay stubs.

    Back to Top


    My children and I reside with my mother. I did not work or receive any benefits during the past calendar year. Her income supported us throughout the year. How do I document my income?
    You need to submit a statement from your mother indicating that she is covering your living expenses. The statement needs to be signed by both you and your mother.

    Back to Top


    Although I did not qualify for low income priority early in the school year, I have since lost my job and now I think I do qualify. Is it too late to have my income verified?

    Yes, it is too late. All income verification forms submitted by the deadline will be reviewed based on the family’s income situation at that time. If you lose your job at some later point, you cannot submit new income information to try to qualify for low income status. For the purposes of the EdChoice program, your income status remains the same for the entire school year, regardless of whether your income situation improves or worsens.

    However, if your income situation changes before the deadline for submitting the Income Verification Form, contact the EdChoice Office at 877-644-6338 and ask to speak with an EdChoice staff member.

    Back to Top


    My employer pays me in cash. How should I document my income?

    You should submit a copy of your income tax forms for the most recent tax cycle. In addition, you must obtain a signed statement from the employer on company letterhead. The statement must include the amounts and frequency of pay, as well as the contact information for their direct supervisor.

    Note: It is important that you are able to document your income sources. Written confirmation from an employer who pays you in cash usually means that taxes are not being filed. Failure to provide proper income documentation could lead to your income not being verified and you not being able to qualify for low income status.

    Back to Top


    I receive child support from my child’s father but it is not ordered by the court. How should this be documented?
    You must obtain a signed statement from the father that specifies the amount and frequency of the child support payment. Your name, the father’s name, and the child’s name should also be included on the statement.

    Back to Top


    What if my income is seasonal and the amount changes during the year?
    When income is from work that normally involves seasonal periods of unemployment, the family’s annual income will be used. If income fluctuates from week to week, several months of income can be used to determine a representative figure.

    Back to Top


    Do I send my income verification form and documents to the private school?
    No. Send the income verification form and supporting income documents to the EdChoice Office. The address is listed on the form.

    Back to Top


    If the private school requires that I fill out income verification for FACTS, PSAS, or some other income verification company, must I also complete the EdChoice income verification process?
    Yes. To be eligible for low income status, you must have your income verified by the EdChoice Office. This is separate from completing the financial aid process for FACTS or PSAS.

    Back to Top


Related

Last Modified: 10/1/2013 7:56:07 AM