500 Education, Training, Employment & Social Services:Expand the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
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  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
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  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


The proposal shifts funding within the District of Columbia’s education budget, making it a budget-neutral recommendation.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

Expand school choice in the nation’s capital in a budget neutral manner. Specifically:

  • Expand the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) with savings from other Heritage education recommendations not listed in this budget book.


More school choice in DC helps more students graduate for no more money.

Policymakers can advance the goal of growing school choice by expanding access to the D.C. OSP through existing funding authorized by the D.C. School Choice Incentive Act, most recently reauthorized as the Students for Opportunity and Results (SOAR) Act. These bills created and continued the D.C. OSP, which provides vouchers to children from low-income families in Washington, D.C., to attend a private school of choice. When the D.C. OSP was created in 2003, Members of Congress funded the new school choice option through what is known as the “three sector” approach: $20 million in funding for the D.C. OSP; $20 million in supplemental funding for D.C.’s public charter schools; and an additional $20 million for the D.C. Public School System. Federal policymakers should shift a portion of the additional federal funding provided to traditional public schools in the “three sector” approach to fund additional vouchers for students to attend a private school of choice. As the District of Columbia falls under the jurisdiction of Congress, it is appropriate for the federal government to fund the D.C. OSP. Moreover, 91 percent of students who used a voucher to attend a private school of choice graduated high school, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education—a rate 21 percentage points higher than a control group of their peers who were awarded but did not use a scholarship.

More school choice in DC helps more students graduate for no more money.

Contributing Expert

Lindsey Burke researches and writes on federal and state education issues as the Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Burke focuses on two critical areas of education policy: reducing the federal role in education and empowering families with school choice.

See publications by Lindsey Burke

Lindsey BurkeWill Skillman Fellow in Education

Heritage Expert

Brittany Corona is a Research Assistant for Domestic Policy Studies with The Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity

See publications by Brittany Corona

Brittany Corona Research Assistant

Additional Reading