Photo: Charlie Nye
By Simon Brown
Earlier this month, some private and religious schools participating in Indiana’s voucher program revealed that they had erroneously received $3.9 million thanks to miscalculations. That money has since been returned.
The Indianapolis Star reported that the overage was revealed only because some of the participating schools did an audit of their tuition and financial aid programs. Of the 300 plus private schools that get voucher money, 80 found errors due to mistakes that the schools described as unintentional.
Most of the schools that returned money are Catholic, the Star said, and they made mistakes like failing to apply discounts for parishioners, not accounting for families with multiple kids or not recognizing discounts for children of church employees.
It’s great that a portion of the schools were honest enough to return taxpayer money and we hope that all of the mistakes truly were made by accident. We also hope that the more than 220 schools that did not perform audits did not receive any extra money, though that seems highly unlikely. But there is an obvious problem here – self-audits are the only check on Indiana’s voucher program at this time. The Hoosier State has an enormous voucher program ($81 million spent in 2013 on an estimated 30,000 students), and Gov. Mike Pence wants to see it grow by lifting the $4,800 cap on “scholarships” for elementary school students.
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