Education Options in the States: State Programs That Provide Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Elementary or Secondary Schools
Revised February 2009
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24. Vermont—Town Tuitioning

Program type: Scholarship-like tuition assistance for students in small towns and rural areas

Description: Vermont school districts that have no available public schooling—normally, districts in small towns and rural areas—pay to send students to approved private schools or to public schools in other districts. Vermont school districts that operate schools with spaces available to such students also may send students to other public or private schools if petitioned to do so by parents. In general, local school districts determine both the availability and range of choice of schools. Private schools that receive students under the "town tuitioning" program must meet basic approval requirements and be nonsectarian. To be eligible to attend a receiving private school, students must be from a family residing in a sending district and gain admission to the school based on its customary admissions criteria.

Amount of assistance: For students attending approved private schools, sending districts pay the average tuition of Vermont schools or the tuition charged by the private school, whichever is less. For the 2006-07 school year,12 the average tuition for Vermont elementary schools was $8,430; the average tuition of Vermont secondary schools was $9,645 for grades 7-8; and $9,773 for grades 9-12. Sending districts may pay an amount higher than the average tuition if approved to do so by the local electorate.

Number of participants: In the 2006-07 school year,13 2,459 students received tuition assistance.

Authorizing statute: 16 Vermont Statutes Annotated §166, 16 Vermont Statutes Annotated §§821-833

Legislative history: The tuition assistance program was signed into law in 1869. The 1869 law allowed for tuition support of students to attend private secondary schools (as well as public elementary and secondary schools). In 1990, the program was expanded to include tuition support of students to attend private elementary schools.

Judicial history: In 1961, participation by religious schools was ruled unconstitutional. In 1994, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled to re-allow participation of religious schools in Campbell v. Manchester Board of School Directorss. In 1999, the same court rescinded this ruling in Chittenden Town School District v. Vermont Department of Education. On Dec. 13, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.

For more information, see:

12 The 2006-07 school year is the most recent school year for which data are available.

13 The 2006-07 school year is the most recent school year for which data are available.

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Last Modified: 04/30/2009