15 Iowa Counties To Get Nearly $100 Million In Voucher Money

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, July 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Iowa Department of Education has approved $142 million in taxpayer dollars to go towards K-12 private school tuition for the 2023-24 school, and nearly $100 million of that amount will go to applicants in just 15 Iowa counties.

New data from the department released Monday showed that 18,627 applications have been approved for Gov. Kim Reynolds’ new voucher program—called Students First Education Savings Accounts—and each applicant is slated to receive $7,635 in taxpayer funds toward a private school education.

Less than 1,000 applications remain in review. Reynolds previously noted that more than 29,000 applications were received for the program. 

Applicants in 96 of Iowa’s 99 counties were approved. The only counties where no applications were approved were in Decatur, Louisa, and Ringgold counties, none of which have private schools. Of Iowa’s 99 counties, only 41 have private schools located within them.

Iowa House Democrats panned the latest news.

“Governor Reynolds gave the special interests and private schools a huge bonus today. It’s just the first installment of her promise to shift over $1 billion of our tax dollars from public schools to private schools instead,” said Rep. Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City).

“It’s bad news for over 90% of the Iowa kids in public schools who will have fewer opportunities and it’s even worse for those public school kids in rural areas,” Steckman added. ” Iowans are overwhelmingly opposed to vouchers because public money is for public schools, and Iowans do not want more of their public schools to close.”

As many predicted, Iowa’s most populated counties are set to receive the most in voucher funds. Collectively, these 15 counties—10 of which rank in the top 15 for county population—are slated to receive $98,490,000:

  1. Polk County: $24 million, 3,144 approved applications
  2. Linn County: $10 million, 1,318 approved applications 
  3. Scott County: $9.9 million, 1,306 approved applications 
  4. Sioux County: $9 million, 1,183 approved applications
  5. Black Hawk County: $7.19 million, 942 approved applications 
  6. Woodbury County: $6.9 million, 916 approved applications 
  7. Dubuque County: $6.7 million, 882 approved applications 
  8. Johnson County: $4.3 million, 572 approved applications
  9. Dallas County: $3.8 million, 505 approved applications 
  10. Carroll County: $3.2 million, 427 approved applications
  11. Plymouth County: $3.1 million, 411 approved applications
  12. Pottawattamie County: $2.9 million, 383 approved applications 
  13. Webster County: $2.8 million, 369 approved applications
  14. Cerro Gordo County: $2.5 million, 338 approved applications  
  15. Marion County: $2.2 million, 297 approved applications


CORRECTION: A previous version of this story omitted Dallas County. We regret the error.

by Ty Rushing


If you enjoy stories like these, make sure to sign up for Iowa Starting Line’s main newsletter.

To contact Senior Editor Ty Rushing for tips or story ideas, email him at ty@iowastartingline.com or find him on social media @Rushthewriter.

​​Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. You can contribute to us here. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


2 Comments on "15 Iowa Counties To Get Nearly $100 Million In Voucher Money"

  • That’s great and all about the schools. It why not put it towards the public schools that we have also? Is it because the public schools are well off like the private schools so your going to do then this way all for thr rich none for the poor? Seems like a lot of this is going around in this worthless government we have i luring iowa

  • How on earth are we paying for this when state taxes have gone down? The only way I can see is stealing from the public schools who already are hurting. This is an outrageous move and MY children will suffer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *