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Home » Issues » Federal Policy » Obama Budget Neglects DC Opportunity Scholarships

Obama Budget Neglects DC Opportunity Scholarships

In one budget request after another, President Obama continues to underfund the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) so that only basic administrative costs are covered.

This year’s FY 2016 budget was no different.

The underfunding remains a mystery in the face of the OSP’s incredible success:

  • 89 percent of twelfth grade OSP students graduated high school in 2013-14., far surpassing the DC Public Schools’ 56 percent graduation rate.
  • 98 percent of 2013-14 OSP high school graduates go on to attend a two-year or four-year college.
  • The DC OSP offers a 162 percent return on each taxpayer dollar invested in the program. Not only that, but the graduation rate for voucher students is 12 percentage points higher than those not using vouchers.


Demand for the OSP among low-income DC families is astronomical:

  • 14,786 applications have been received since the program’s inception, with only 5,967 scholarships actually awarded.
  • Once enrolled, 95 percent of parents reported satisfaction with their child’s academic progress.


CER President Kara Kerwin called it, “inexcusable” that the OSP’s proven benefits continue to be ignored by the White House.

Even research on vouchers in general, and not specifically the DC OSP, points to the benefits of this school choice avenue:

  • African-American students who received vouchers in New York are nine percentage points more likely to enroll in college according to a Brookings study.
  • Private school vouchers have saved taxpayers more than 1.7 billion since 1990, with nearly half of that coming from Florida’s McKay Scholarship for students.