MOScholars, Missouri’s school choice program, already has exceeded the number of scholarships that were awarded last scholarship award cycle, with three months remaining in the cycle. Scholarships can be awarded up to the end of January.
“MOScholars gives children a choice in where they go to school,” state Treasurer Vivek Malek said earlier this week. “I’m thrilled by increased demand and will continue to lead the fight in providing greater educational opportunities for all of Missouri’s children.”
Last year, the treasurer’s office established one of the nation’s first school choice programs. Through MOScholars, eligible children can apply for scholarships of up to $6,375, which they can use for tuition at private or charter schools, or even homeschooling.
To be eligible, children must live in St. Louis County, Jackson County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Clay County or a city with a population of more than 30,000. Eligible children must have an approved in “individualized education plan” developed under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. If a child does not meet the previous requirement, they can qualify if they live in a household whose total annual income does not exceed 100 percent of the free and reduced lunch rate.
State Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters, who sponsored the legislation, said lawmakers might examine the timeframe for donations because of the gap between the start of school and the end of the year He said he would like to see private school choice funded through the state budget in addition to relying on donated tax credits. Annual donations to MOScholars have yet to hit 20 percent of the $50 million cap.
The Missouri Constitution bars public funding for religious schools. Last year, nearly half of the $9.3 million in tax credits collected for MOScholars was raised by the Herzog Tomorrow Foundation in Smithville and distributed to 600 students. So far this year, the Christian educational foundation has raised $1.1 million and issued 178 vouchers.
More information is available at Missouri’s K-12 Scholarship Program (mo.gov).
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice