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You are here: Home >> Resources >> Funding Services >> Autism Scholarship Program

Ohio's Autism Scholarship Program


Background about the ASP

Learn about the Autism Scholarship & follow link to the Ohio Department of Education's ASP Page   

Statistics on the Autism Scholarship & Link to the Approved Provider List

What ASO supports about the Autism Scholarship

Concerns about the Autism Scholarship         

ASO is interested in your Input

Additional Information

Click here for ODE-OEC Information on the Autism Scholarship Program

Over the years, ASO has fought hard for the rights of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to obtain a free and appropriate public education and to pressure schools to accept their mandates under IDEA. ASO has partnered with families, professionals and educators to develop curriculums that helped all of these groups work closely together and to improve the atmosphere to one of cooperation. ASO has been at the forefront for these changes. While public schools services are continually improving and many children are thriving in the public school setting, ASO also supports having choices available for parents to pursue when the public school setting is unwilling or unable to meet the needs for a child. The Autism Scholarship program enables many families to have a choice.

  • As of 2014, Ohio is home to five state-funded scholarship programs.
    • Cleveland Scholarship & Tutoring Program
    • EdChoice Scholarship Program
    • Income-Based Scholarship Program
    • Autism Scholarship Program - main scholarship utilized by students with autism
    • Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship Program - some students with autism may attend a provider approved under the JP Scholarship
    • Learn more about these five scholarships at  School Choice Ohio



What is the Autism Scholarship?
Ohio's Autism Scholarship Program is a program of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The program allows ODE to pay a scholarship to the parents of a qualified child with autism. Through the scholarship, parents have a choice of seeking services for their child with a registered private provider, rather than the child's resident school district to receive the services outlined in the child's individualized education program (IEP). Passed as a pilot as part of the 2003 Budget bill, the program became permanent law as part of HB699, the Capital Bill, passed in late 2006.

The amount of the Autism Scholarship is capped at $20,000 and to be eligible a student must be identified with autism, enrolled in their public district of residence, have a current and agreed upon IEP, and have no administrative or judicial mediations or proceedings pending regarding the IEP. For complete information about Ohio's Autism Scholarship Program click HERE to go to Ohio Department of Education's website. The Autism Scholarship Program (ASP) has helped many families that choose to leave their public school system to obtain very specialized services through a registered private provider in accordance with their wishes. Many children have benefited by that decision and overwhelmingly parents are satisfied with the services obtained through the Autism Scholarship program. The numbers of those enrolled in the ASP continue to grow. Clearly, the program has impressed an important segment of ASO’s constituent base.

Statistics on the Autism Scholarship Program & Link to approved providers
In the 2013-14 school year, there were 2,748 students who received the autism scholarship. For a complete listing of ASP Registered Private Providers, Click HERE.








What ASO supports about the Autism Scholarship:

  • The family feedback received about the ASP from has largely been positive including the manner with which the Department of Education Office for Exceptional Children has managed it.
  • ASP allows families to access effective models to educate children beyond the traditional classroom, such as ABA or EIBI. The ASP enables families to have a choice of tailored programs outside of the public school setting for specialized services.
  • The ASP provides funding for families to seek private services that otherwise would not be able to afford it.
  • The ASP provides funding for preschoolers, who especially have difficulty in securing funding despite the proven fact that timing is critical for these children to get early intervention.
  • For some public school districts, the ASP provides an incentive to improve the special education services for children with autism. For example, in the first year of the ASP, one public district lost a relatively high number of 15 students, indicating that the parents were not happy with the services that they offered. The district convened a
  • task force to reevaluate their work, improving their educational services for all students with disabilities.
  • The ASP is easy to access for children who meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Private providers may not have as many problems with bullying.


Concerns that ASO has about the Autism Scholarship:

  • There are certain rural areas of the state that have no private providers – although this geographic disparity predates the ASP, it determines which families can access and utilize the ASP.
  • There are limited providers for older school age children, such as middle school and high school.
  • ASO may not be able to provide advice on the quality of the services of the private providers. The same can be said for the public schools as they have clearly struggled to deliver consistently appropriate services throughout the state.
  • Transportation is not provided in the Autism Scholarship unless it is in the IEP, which comes out of the $20,000 cap. This prevents some families from being able to take advantage of the program.
  • Students utilizing the scholarship relinquish their right to FAPE – free appropriate public education. Parents are responsible for ensuring that their child is getting an appropriate education.
  • There is no process for resolving disputes between parents and private providers.
  • There is no due process in private sector.
  • Private providers can refuse to serve a student with ASD.
  • Many private providers offer segregated settings.
  • Because the scholarship is capped at $20k, if a provider charges more than $20k, poorer families may not be able to make up cost difference between scholarship and private tuition and therefore are unable to access the program.


ASO supports the idea that families should have an option to choose the ASP if they wish. ASO supports the success stories that have been shared by many who have used the program along with the success stories shared by persons who have used public schools.

ASO will continue to follow the progress of the ASP and ASO will continue to listen to the base of support as ASO will continue to consider this important issue.

ASO is interested in your Input.
YOUR OPINIONS AND STORIES ARE IMPORTANT TO US! Please send them to us at and put Autism Scholarship Program in the subject line. We will post the results on this page in the coming months and use these stories and opinions aswe advocate on behalf of persons with autism and their families in Ohio.


Additional Information

For additional information about the Scholarship, you can access the following documents and web sites:
School Choice Ohio Autism Scholarship Brochure Click HERE
Special Education Vouchers: Four State Approaches, Project Forum at National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDE), April 2007 Click HERE
Formative Evaluation of Ohio's Autism Scholarship Program Click HERE
Policy Matters Report, 2008 Click HERE
Accountability and School Choice, Buckeye Institute, May 5, 2008 Click HERE
Civic Report 52: The Effect of Special Education Vouchers on Public School Achievement: Evidence From Florida's McKay Scholarship Program, Manhattan Institute for Public Policy, April 2008 Click HERE
Ohio Autism Scholarship Yahoo Group Click HERE

News Article

Analysis Criticizes Ohio Vouchers Targeting Students With Autism Click HERE
Autism Spectrum Quarterly: States Debate School Choice for Students with Autism Click HERE


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