Fact Sheets: The Truth About Vouchers

Proposed National Voucher Programs

  • Voucher costs are generally based on the per-pupil expenditure for tuition at a private school. These estimates do not include the "hidden" costs of administration, record keeping, information dissemination, transportation and services provided to private school students at public school levels. Conservative estimates in 1998 placed these costs for a national voucher program at $73 billion-25% above the annual national public education budget. 1
  • Claims that private schools educate students for less are misleading. Private school tuition is a less accurate measure of actual cost than public schools' per-pupil expenditure in that tuition does not reflect fundraising, student fees, in-kind contributions and, in the case of religious schools, teaching clergy and donated or subsidized facilities.2 One researcher estimates that tuition at Catholic schools accounts for only 51% of total school costs, with parish subsidies, fundraising and other sources making up the difference.3 In Milwaukee, for example, private voucher school tuition has averaged about 60% of actual costs.4
  • Further-as is the case in Milwaukee and Cleveland-private schools do not generally provide special services for students with disabilities, special education teachers, transportation, counseling and breakfast and lunch services that push up public school per-pupil average costs.
  • Former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley estimated that a voucher program open to all students would cost taxpayers more than $15 billion for the 5 million students already in private schools before the first public school student entered a voucher school.6
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