Ohio’s new budget, signed by Governor DeWine this summer, includes a long-overdue increase in the Autism Scholarship amount. Currently a qualifying student can access $27,000 in scholarship dollars under the Autism Scholarship, but that amount will climb to $31,500 in October and $32,455 in 2022. It is not a huge jump, but every dollar helps.
All Ohio students who have an IEP for autism can choose to take the Autism Scholarship. The scholarship provides funding so that a student can be educated outside of the district, by a private and authorized provider of the family’s choosing. In taking the scholarship, a family waives the public school’s obligation to provide their student a Free Appropriate Public Education in hopes that the outside placement will better meet the student’s needs. The Autism Scholarship is a good parachute when families and districts cannot agree upon an appropriate educational plan or placement. Taking the scholarship avoids conflict and gives the student a fresh start in a new environment, rather quickly.
The scholarship funds go directly to the provider (not the family) but, if the scholarship amount does not cover the complete cost of the student’s education, the family is responsible for paying the difference. That’s why this increase in funding is so important. Specialized schools are very expensive and the typical family would not be able to give their child this opportunity without the scholarship funds. It is notable that the other Ohio disability-related school scholarship, the Jon Peterson Scholarship, will remain capped at $27,000 for students with Autism. So if your student qualifies under Autism, take the Autism Scholarship over the Jon Peterson if your chosen provider accepts both. (pg. 84).
Students who qualify for the Jon Peterson Scholarship under other disability categories will see a small increase in their scholarship amounts. For example, the eligibility categories of Other Health Impairment- Minor (OHI) and Specific Learning Disability (SLD) will increase by $197 in October (Fiscal Year 2022) and $394 the following year.
For a full copy of HB 110 click here.