A program that covers most of the cost of private and charter school tuition for low income students is growing rapidly, giving students zoned for failing schools an option other than taxpayer funded vouchers. The tuition donation rebate program was established in a bill by River Ridge Representative Kirk Talbot. He says this program puts students on a path to success.
“You send a kid to a private school, he or she has a far more likelihood of actually getting a diploma and going to college than the public school system, and that’s just a fact,” Talbot said.
The money to support this tuition program comes from corporations and private donors and it helps pay for a significant portion of a child’s tuition, with parents covering the remaining costs. Talbot says the way it is set up, local schools do not lose state funding and companies who donate receive rebates, so they lose very little as well. He says it’s a win-win for the students and the state.
“I modeled this bill after the state of Florida. They have over 30,000 kids on the scholarship, saving the state of Florida tens of millions of dollars,” Talbot said.
When the tuition donation rebate program began in 2014, only 63 students received scholarships, and now over 1,600 students are attending private schools on scholarships from the program. Talbot expects it to grow even more in the coming years. He says Arete Scholars Louisiana and ACE Scholarships Louisiana administer the scholarships, and parents pick the school.
“They all have websites. You can go there and apply and all that, and they’re going to have to qualify you economically, and once you do that, they will give you a list of schools that are accepting vouchers,” Talbot said.