On first day of school, no Tennessee student or private school yet approved for voucher program (2023)

On the first day of school in Memphis and Nashville this week, no students were approved to use school vouchers and no private schools were approved to accept them.

The Tennessee Department of Education told the USA Today Network - Tennessee on Tuesday it hadnot yetapproved or denied anyapplications for families or schools as of Monday morning.

The Education Savings Account or voucher program allows eligible students in Shelby and Davidson counties to usepublic money to pay for private school tuition. It has been challenged in Tennessee courts by both Metro Nashville schoolsand Shelby County, as well as by a number of families opposed to pulling funding away from traditional public schools.

The program, narrowly approved in 2019, is a centerpiece of Gov. Bill Lee's education agenda but had been tied up in court for years. So when the courts gave it a green light last week, supporters celebrated.

Read this:Despite flurry of attention, change, MSCS sets sights on a 'normal' school year

(Video) Tennessee Gov: School voucher program to start immediately

From 2020:Shelby County government, Nashville sue state over 'unconstitutional' voucher program

But the news came just two days before the start of the school year, and new numbers show significantly fewer families and private schools have acted to formally participate in the program than past data suggested.

Earlier this summer, the governor said more than 2,000 families signaled their intent to apply.

As of Monday morning, only 30 families had submitted an actual application, according to information from Department of Education spokesperson Brian Blackley. The department received applications from 40 schools, he said, noting that application process has closed.

None of the 30 family applications have been reviewed for approval or denial.The department has yet to approve any of theapplications submitted bythe schools, he said.

(Video) Tennessee Senate Passes school voucher bill

"At this time, with (family) applications still coming in, we are continuing to review and have not made determinations of eligibility," Blackley said in an email.

During a news briefing in Memphis in late July,Lee told reporters more than 2,000 families filed applications for intent to use the program.

An initial legal win by the Shelby and Davidson counties blocked the program for two years, until a recent ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court, followed by last Friday's decision by a panel of chancery judges, kickstarted the program while the case continues.

The Supreme Court ruled the program did not violate the state constitution by only applying to the two counties, without their consent. The court's ruling didn't wipe away other legal challenges to the program.

Stilla three-judge panel last Friday decided not to temporarily block the program while it continued to hear the legal arguments.

(Video) More than 2,000 families signed up for Tennessee's school voucher program

The state has arguedthe program is intended to give students in districts that have low-performing schools a chance to attend private schools in the hope of a better education. Attorneys haveinsisted delaying the program would harm those students.

Blackley said Tuesday the number of official applications is "changing daily," but didn't indicate how exponential the department expects the growth. The department did not say whether any of the 30 applications came from families outside of the two eligible counties.

Related:Tennessee launches school voucher program: Here's how the program works

Previous coverage:State to launch controversial school voucher program for upcoming school year

The program's eligibility requirements are limited to families whomake less than double the federal guidelines to qualify for free lunch, about$60,000annually for a family of threeor $72,000 annually for a family of four, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2022 income eligibility guidelines.

(Video) School voucher system proposed

On first day of school, no Tennessee student or private school yet approved for voucher program (2)

The state gathered the 2,000-plus families who expressed intentions to apply via an application window open for approximately two weeks, Blackley said,from the time the injunction lifted in mid-Julyto the end of July.

The official application, which has since garnered the 30 family responses, was posted in the days after the application for intent closed.

Previous approvals indicate the number of private schools interested in the program has declined.Before the department relaunchedthe program websiteon July 19,more than 60 participating private schoolswerelisted on the state's ESA website.

Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, visiting Memphis schools on the morning of the district'sfirst day, told reporters she did not know how many applications had been approved for the voucher program.

"If I'm being really honest, I'm here to celebrate the first day of school, of our really wonderful public schools here in Memphis-Shelby County Schools," she said Monday morning.

(Video) TN School Voucher Program Clears Major Hurdle

Laura Testino covers education and children's issues for the Commercial Appeal. Reach her at laura.testino@commercialappeal.com or 901-512-3763. Find her on Twitter: @LDTestino


How does Tennessee school voucher program work? ›

The voucher amount is equal to the state and local Basic Education Program (BEP) per-pupil amount of a student's home district or the statewide average BEP (about $7,300 in 2020–21), whichever amount is less. Families may pay for tuition and educational services in excess of the maximum voucher amount.

Does Tennessee have a school voucher program? ›

Public Chapter 506, which was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed by Governor Bill Lee in spring 2019, established the ESA program, providing additional education choices for students. Gov.

How much is the voucher for private school? ›

Voucher Program Amount

Under the program, DepEd spends an average of PHP18,300 per voucher recipient but, based on location, the sum ranges from PHP17,500 to PHP22,500. In addition, it varies based on the senior high school's location.

What is the effect of voucher programs on education? ›

Vouchers do not reduce public education costs

Actually, they increase costs, by requiring taxpayers to fund two school systems, one public and one private. The result is that public schools, which educate 90 percent of students, wind up with less funding.

How often do you get e vouchers from school? ›

3. When will I receive my Voucher? We aim to send these out every 2 weeks to cover the following 2 week period.

What is a school payment voucher? ›

A voucher allows parents to use public funds to pay for some or all of their child's private school tuition. Vouchers are created and distributed by state governments, in most cases. The first voucher program, created in 1991 in Milwaukee, WI, was designed to give low-income families more high-quality school options.

Who qualifies for free tuition in Tennessee? ›

An “independent” student is defined as one of the following: at least 24 years old, married, a graduate or professional student, a veteran, a member of the armed forces, an orphan, a ward of the court, or someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor or someone who is homeless or at risk of ...

How can I go to school for free in Tennessee? ›

The student must:
  1. Be a Tennessee resident, U.S. Citizen.
  2. Have a FAFSA dependency status of independent.
  3. Enroll Full-time at a Tennessee College of Applied Technology.
  4. Be in pursuit of a certificate or diploma.
  5. Maintain continuous enrollment and satisfactory academic progress.

What is the $250 voucher for? ›

"The NSW Government has launched Parents NSW Vouchers to reward and thank eligible NSW households for their efforts to support learning from home in 2021," the NSW government website said. From February 2022, one person from each eligible household can apply for 5 x $50 vouchers, worth $250 in total.

How much is the parents voucher? ›

There are 2 x $100 vouchers for parents, guardians and carers of school-enrolled children to pay for sport, fitness and active recreation activities. If your school-enrolled children enjoy creative activities like arts, drama, dance, digital design, coding, and music lessons then apply for a $100 voucher.

Do private schools take childcare vouchers? ›

Can childcare vouchers be used for private education fees? Childcare vouchers must not be used to pay for private education, except for terms which start before the child reaches age 5.

Who qualifies for school subsidy? ›

The following families can qualify for full or partial exemption from school fees: When the breadwinner's annual salary is less than ten times the amount of the school fee. When the combined income of the mother and father is less than 30 times the annual school fee.

What are the cons of vouchers? ›

School vouchers funnel money away from already-struggling public schools and children and redistribute tax dollars to private schools and middle-class children. School vouchers fail to accommodate and support disabled and special-needs students. School vouchers do not improve students' academic performance.

What's the advantage of having a voucher program? ›

When compared with non-voucher students, voucher students were 6 percent less likely to repeat a grade; they scored 0.2 standard deviations higher on achievement tests and they were 20 percent more likely to take the college entrance exam. They were also less likely to be married and earned more in wages.

How long do Evouchers take to process? ›

Voucher processing

This can take between 6-12 hours and the recipient will be notified once this is available.

How long do e vouchers take to come through? ›

Most vouchers are received within 30 minutes after the retailer has been selected.

How often are kids vouchers active? ›

The Active Kids program provides a $100 voucher for parents, guardians and carers of school-enrolled children to use towards sport and active recreation costs each year. The current voucher, released on 1 January 2023, is valid until 30 June 2023.

How do voucher payments work? ›

A payment voucher is a way to record payments made to suppliers and maintain a history of payments that your business has made. Companies use vouchers to gather and file supporting documents that are required to approve and track payments of liabilities.

How does a voucher work? ›

Voucher programs work differently in each state, but the basic principle is generally the same: The state pays for part of the cost of private school, usually for low-income students, in order to give parents additional choices.

How does a voucher system work? ›

States offer school voucher programs as a way to give parents choices in what school their child attends. Parents receive funds to use toward the cost of private school. (Not all states allow vouchers to be used at schools affiliated with a religion, however.) In some cases, they may also be used for homeschooling.

Is TN reconnect still available? ›

The TN Reconnect Grant is available to students who are classified as independent on the FAFSA OR at least 23 years of age by January 1 of the academic year who have not previously earned an associate degree or more advanced degree and are enrolled in an eligible program of study.

Is anyone eligible for TN Promise? ›

Eligibility. Tennessee resident/U.S. citizen/eligible non-citizen/students who graduate from an eligible high School, homeschool, or earn a GED/HISET (prior to 19th birthday) can receive an award at an eligible postsecondary institution toward tuition and mandatory fees after all other gift aid has been first applied.

What does TN reconnect pay for? ›

What is the Tennessee Reconnect Grant? The Tennessee Reconnect Grant is a last-dollar grant that pays the remaining balance of tuition and mandatory fees after other state and federal financial aid have been applied.

How can I get back into school with no money? ›

Here are nine ways to pay for college with no money:
  1. Apply for scholarships.
  2. Apply for financial aid and grants.
  3. Consider going to community college or trade school first.
  4. Negotiate with the college for more financial aid.
  5. Get a work-study job.
  6. Trim your expenses.
  7. Take out federal student loans.
Oct 26, 2022

What happens if you don't go to school in Tennessee? ›

Because parents are legally responsible for sending their children to school, they could face misdemeanor charges for educational neglect. If they're found guilty, they could be fined and/or sent to jail—up to $50 and/or 30 days for each day the child skipped school.

Can you Unschool in Tennessee? ›

In Tennessee you have three options if you would like to homeschool; register with your local school board or county or a CRS (church-related school) or an accredited online school. In a very simplified way, joining a CRS, like The Farm School, is like becoming a branch campus of a private school.

Who can get the 100 voucher? ›

Any NI resident over the age of 18 was able to apply for the £100 voucher, which was provided as an incentive to spend locally and give businesses a post-lockdown boost. Applications closed for the scheme at midnight on Monday, October 25.

Who is eligible for the government $250 payment? ›

To get the $250 one-off Cost of Living Payment you must be a Centrelink or Department of Veterans'Affairs customer. You must have been residing in Australia on 29 March 2022 and either: you were able to claim, or were getting an eligible payment. you were able to get, or had an eligible concession card.

How do I claim my $50 accommodation voucher? ›

Explained: how to redeem your free $50 Stay NSW voucher to spend on a hotel stay
  1. Open your Service NSW app (or download it to your phone)
  2. Go to the 'Browse' tab and tap on the 'Find out more' prompt on the 'Stay NSW' button.
  3. Scroll down until you find the 'Check your address' button and tap it.
  4. Verify your identity.
Feb 24, 2022

What is the maximum child care voucher? ›

It's a government scheme designed to help working parents with the cost of childcare. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add another £2, with a maximum saving of £2,000 per child each year to spend on childcare.

Can you use parent and stay vouchers together? ›

Parents NSW vouchers can be combined for a single booking (up to $250), however you cannot combine them with Stay NSW vouchers or Discover NSW vouchers.

Where can parent vouchers be used? ›

1. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
  • WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. ...
  • Taronga Zoo Sydney. ...
  • Sydney Tower Eye. ...
  • Madame Tussauds Sydney. ...
  • Potoroo Palace Animal Sanctuary. ...
  • Blue Mountains Hop-on Hop-off Bus. ...
  • Jervis Bay Dolphin Eco Tour.
Apr 10, 2022

Can you use the before and after school voucher for vacation care? ›

Please note the date of issue. Parents of school-aged children including those starting Kindergarten in 2023, now have more opportunity to claim a $500 voucher for Before and After School Care (BASC), just in time to help with the cost of vacation care over the summer holidays.

How many days will the government reimburse the voucher from the schools concerned? ›

"(a) For students enrolled in schools charging an amount as may be determined by the State Assistance Council, the government shall provide them with a voucher in such an amount as may be determined by the council: Provided, That the government shall reimburse the vouchers from the schools concerned within one hundred ...

What is a TN reward school? ›

Schools are recognized as a Reward school when they demonstrate high levels of performance and/or improvement in performance by meeting their annual measurable objectives across performance indicators and student groups.

How do education savings accounts work? ›

With this account: Account earnings can grow tax-deferred. Withdrawals are tax-free when used for qualified education expenses. Contributions can be made to an ESA and a 529 plan for the same beneficiary in the same year.

How does a vacation voucher work? ›

A travel voucher is a certificate, usually electronic, that can be used to pay for travel costs. They often come in the form of hotel vouchers, flight vouchers, or cruise vouchers. They represent a specific value and can be used towards future purchases.

How much do childcare vouchers save you? ›

How much can I save? If you are a standard rate tax payer and elect to take £243 per month with paper or electronic Childcare Vouchers you could save between £916 and £962 per year. If you are a higher rate tax payer you could save up to £1,195 per year.

Can I transfer my voucher to another school? ›

Transfer from one voucher tier location to another is allowed, but the voucher amount to be received by the voucher program beneficiary in the accepting school shall be the voucher amount of the accepting school or the voucher amount from the releasing school, whichever is lower.

What is one of the possible disadvantages of school voucher systems? ›

School vouchers funnel money away from already-struggling public schools and children and redistribute tax dollars to private schools and middle-class children. School vouchers fail to accommodate and support disabled and special-needs students. School vouchers do not improve students' academic performance.

What are the basis for granting government support to private education? ›

Pursuant to Republic Act (RA) Nos. 6728, 8545 and 10533, the DepEd, through the GASTPE program, provides financial assistance to students and teachers in order to improve access to quality education and decongest the public schools.

Does everyone get TN promise? ›

Eligibility. Tennessee resident/U.S. citizen/eligible non-citizen/students who graduate from an eligible high School, homeschool, or earn a GED/HISET (prior to 19th birthday) can receive an award at an eligible postsecondary institution toward tuition and mandatory fees after all other gift aid has been first applied.

What is the best school system in Tennessee? ›

Germantown Municipal School District is the best public school system in Tennessee.
Top School Districts in Tennessee, 2020.
46 more rows

What is the number one high school in Tennessee? ›

1Hamilton County Collegiate High at Chattanooga State9-12
2Franklin High School9-12
3Ravenwood High School9-12
7 more rows
Jul 25, 2022


1. School Voucher Program Subject of Debate in Nation's Capital
(Voice of America)
2. Gov. Ducey expands school voucher system with bill signing
(AZFamily | 3TV and CBS 5 News in Phoenix )
3. Your School Choice Guide in Tennessee 2023
(School Choice Week)
4. WATCH: TN school voucher sign-up begins | FOX13 Memphis
(FOX13 Memphis)
5. New poll shows Texans split on school vouchers
6. Knox County delegation split on voucher bill
(WBIR Channel 10)
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