March 03, 2014
The Show-Me Institute releases first-ever study of New Hampshire's Opportunity Scholarship program. The program helps low- and middle-income families afford the schools of their choice by granting 85% tax credits to businesses that donate to nonprofit scholarship organizations.
The study finds that the program primarily benefits low-income families and that those families are highly satisfied.
The study's author, Jason Bedrick, is an education policy analyst at the Cato Institute and a former New Hampshire state representative. He holds a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
The study included a survey of parents of scholarship recipients, which found:
* 97 percent of parents of scholarship recipients are satisfied with their chosen private or home school.
* 68 percent of parents reported that they noticed measurable academic improvement in their child since receiving the scholarship.
* 74 percent of private school parents reported that they would have been unable to afford tuition without the scholarship.
The survey was sent to all families participating in the program and had a 92 percent response rate.
The study also found that scholarship recipients are overwhelmingly low-income:
* 91 percent of scholarship recipients had a household income that would qualify them for the federal Free and Reduced-Lunch program (185 percent of the federal poverty line, or $43,568 for a family of four).
* 73 percent qualified for a "free lunch" (under 130 percent of the federal poverty line, or $30,615 for a family of four).
The study includes profiles of three participating families (see the blue boxes on pages 4, 6, and 9) as well as dozens of direct quotes from survey respondents about their satisfaction with the program, their chosen school, and their previous public school, as well as suggestions to improve the program (see pages 14-20).