Backpack Bill FAQ
Disclaimer: As we go through the legislative process, some of these answers may change.
What is the Backpack Bill?
The Backpack Bill is an innovative funding mechanism for students that will provide a state-funded Educational Savings Account (ESA) to every Ohio K-12 student who opts into the program. The student may use these ESA funds for authorized educational expenses, including tuition at a private school of their choice or homeschooling expenses.
Why is the Backpack Bill needed?
Ohio’s system of assigning students to a public school based upon where the student lives
Ohio’s education system is failing to meet the diverse needs of many of our children by limiting their schooling options to a single choice. The one-size-fits-all approach cannot provide what every student needs and creates a monopoly on schooling options. The lack of competition stultifies responsiveness and innovation. Many students are trapped in underperforming schools or in schools that undermine core tenets of their belief systems through radically sexualized and political ideology that is being taught in the classroom.
Most of the children in public schools have no other options, so the schools lack incentive to respond to parental concerns. The Backpack Bill will break the monopoly of the one-size-fits-all system by funding the students rather than the system. The market forces created by this will result in a dramatically improved educational landscape that will benefit all students, regardless of where they choose to attend.
How much money follows each child?
For students who opt in to the program, the state will fund their ESA with a scholarship amounting to $5500 for students in grades K-8 and $7500 for students in grades 9-12.
Is there an income threshold to access the Backpack Bill?
No, every K-12 student in Ohio is eligible for an Backpack Scholarship. School choice programs reduces the cost of educating students, so no matter what a family earns, the bill is a good deal for the state, students, and taxpayers.
What if the child is homeschooled?
Under the House bill, any homeschool student who opts into the ESA program is eligible for a Backpack Scholarship.
Under the Senate bill, homeschoolers would not be eligible for the EdChoice scholarship. However, they would be eligible for a $2,000 state tax credit for homeschooling expenses.
What if the child chooses to enroll in a public or community school?
Public and community school students’ per pupil allocation from the state would follow them to their public school, just like they currently do.
What happens to local property or income tax funds under the Backpack Bill?
The Backpack Bill does not affect local or federal educational tax revenues. One hundred percent of those funds will continue to go to the local public school district. And since the entirety of local and federal revenues, combined with the per pupil allocation from the state for those enrolled in that district, will be funding a smaller number of students, the actual per pupil revenue received by public districts will likely increase.