School Choice Programs Don’t Cause Tuition Inflation

By Kathryn Hickok

A long-standing question about taxpayer-funded school choice programs like vouchers, education tax credits, and Education Scholarship Accounts is whether such programs would cause tuition to rise at private elementary and high schools.

A new study by the Heritage Foundation shows that school choice programs have kept elementary school costs from increasing in their states and had no impact on high school tuition. Lucy Graves at The Daily Signal reports: “Over the past 10 years, states that adopted school choice policies had lower rates of tuition increases than states that never had school choice policies. When adjusted for inflation, the cost of tuition rose more slowly in states that had previously adopted school choice. States without school choice had an average 27.6% increase in tuition, while states with school choice saw a 15.4% increase, the study found.”

In recent polling, seventy-one percent of voters said parents should “have the right to use tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school which best serves their needs.” School choice laws make it easier for families with fewer financial means to choose tuition-based education options. Data from the Heritage Foundation study should reassure policymakers that “letting the money follow the child” doesn’t cause inflation in K-12 school tuition.

Kathryn Hickok is Executive Vice President at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization, and Director of Cascade’s Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon program.

Did you like this article? Contribute to Oregon’s premier public policy research organization online at CascadePolicy.orgDonations to Cascade Policy Institute are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.