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National Scholarship and Voucher Programs

The Children's Scholarship Fund provides renewable partial tuition scholarships to allow low-income families to send their children to private and parochial elementary schools (grades K-8). There is no restriction on the type of school, which can include religious schools such as Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Islamic schools as well as secular schools like Montessori schools. Scholarship recipients are selected in a random drawing from among qualified applicants. All eligible children in the chosen families receive scholarships. Approximately 2% of qualified applicants receive scholarships, with more than one million applying. The average scholarship is about $1,250 to $1,500 per child. Scholarship amounts are based on family size, family income and school. The scholarship may be capped at 25%, 50% or 75% of tuition, depending on family income and a dollar cap on the scholarship. Usually families are required to contribute $500 per year or 25% of tuition, whichever is greater, toward tuition. Financial need is based on the eligibility criteria for the federal free and reduced-price school lunch. Deadlines are usually in the fall preceding the next school year. The Children's Scholarship Fund was founded in 1998 by Ted Forstmann and the late John Walton. It provides matching grants to affiliates in more than 35 cities nationwide, including:

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation provides some of the most generous scholarship programs nationwide. Their program spans from high school through college and graduate school. The Young Scholars Program provides support during high school to low and moderate income high school students who demonstrate academic and extracurricular excellence. Students apply to the program during the 7th grade (deadline in early May) and receive funding for high school (9-12). The program provides academic support and mentoring in addition to financial support. The financial support may include support for summer programs, music and art instruction, and computers and software or other learning tools. The Scholars may also continue to receive support beyond high school, including college scholarships and graduate fellowships. Approximately 75 Scholars are selected from among more than 1,000 applications each year. There is no specific income cutoff, but more than 90% of Scholars have an AGI of less than $60,000. (The average income is $25,000.)

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) lets parents send their children to other public schools or to obtain free tutoring for their children if their children are attending an underperforming school or unsafe. The school districts must also pay for transportation costs. It does not cover the costs of sending children to private schools.

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"Education - lifelong education for everyone - from toddlers to workers well advanced in their careers - is indeed an excellent investment for individuals and society as a whole."
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