Another new educational choice program sees surge of demand

It’s becoming a familiar story. A new education choice program open to all families comes on line in a state where many families previously had limited options. It’s immediately awash in applications from interested families.

This week, Oklahoma launched its new universal education tax credit, which allows families to claim reimbursement for up to $7,500 for private school tuition or $1,000 for homeschool expenses.

Local news reports, citing Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office, report the program received nearly 30,000 applications within hours. Stitt himself had considered applying, but later told local media he would decline to participate to make sure he didn’t compete with other Oklahoma residents for limited space under the $150 million cap in the program’s first year.

The headlines echo reports earlier this year from Iowa, where tens of thousands of parents applied for that state’s new universal education savings account program, and Florida, which saw an increase of more than 100,000 participating students after the Legislature expanded eligibility to all families.

The Oklahoma program has attracted attention in the school choice movement because of its novel structure. It issues money directly to families through a refundable tax credit, rather than allocating state funding to scholarships for students.

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BY Travis Pillow

Travis Pillow is Director of Thought Leadership at Step Up For Students and editor of NextSteps. He lives in Sanford, Fla. with his wife and two children. A former Tallahassee statehouse reporter, he most recently worked at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, a research organization at Arizona State University, where he studied community-led learning innovation and school systems' responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. He can be reached at tpillow (at)