How the Milwaukee Vouchers Work

Published September 1, 1998
How the Milwaukee Vouchers Work
Eligibility Limited to Milwaukee families with incomes at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty level whose children in the previous year either attended city schools, no school, or grades K-3 in a private school. The average income of participating families over the first five years was $11,630, well below the limit.
Numbers Participation cannot exceed 7 percent of the Milwaukee Public School enrollment in the first year of the expansion, rising to 15 percent thereafter. Based on current MPS enrollment of 102,000, up to 15,300 students may participate.
Schools Students may attend any eligible sectarian or non-sectarian private school in the City of Milwaukee. If applications to a school exceed the number of places available there, the school must assign places by lottery.
Finances Using funds it otherwise would have paid to MPS, the state writes a check to the student’s parent or guardian, who then endorses the check over to the chosen private school. The school receives the lesser of: a) the school’s per-pupil operating cost, including debt service; or, b) the state’s per-pupil aid to MPS, roughly $4,900. The program thus will cost no more than $75 million if fully 15,300 students participate.