NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Arizona Tuition Program Benefits Low-Income Families

February 9, 2004

A survey of the parents of children receiving scholarships and those on the waiting list suggests that a significant number of Arizona families with incomes below $30,000 is benefiting from school choice policies. Survey results show that parents who are able to exercise school choice are generally more satisfied with their children's educations.

The survey was conducted after the creation of the Arizona School Choice Trust (ASCT) -- a private scholarship fund for residents of Maricopa County -- that enables low-income families to receive financial help in sending their children to schools of their choice.

According to the survey:

  • Some 89 percent of ASCT parents sending their children to private schools rated their overall school experience an "A," compared to 15 percent of those on the waiting list sending their children to public schools.
  • About 92 percent of ASCT parents felt the school they chose reflected their family's values, while over 85 percent of scholarship-recipient parents felt their chosen school provided improved academics and better teachers.

Involvement of ASCT parents sending their children to private schools was much greater than parents on the waiting list with children in public schools. Over 16 percent of public school parents were either ignored or refused when contacting a teacher; whereas, only one-half percent of ASCT private school parents felt that way.

Opponents often argue that school-choice programs as benefiting only the wealthy, but the ASCT program has proven otherwise. Since the scholarship is based on financial need, the average family income of a scholarship recipient was $29,182, about 30 percent below the median income for the entire state.

Source: Dan Lips, "The Impact of Tuition Scholarships on Low-Income Families: A Survey of Arizona School Choice Trust Parents," Policy Report, December 11, 2003, Goldwater Institute.


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