Maryland’s BOOST Scholarship: Who it serves and how it works

Maryland School Choice Update 2023

Over the past seven years, about 20,000 low-income children in Maryland have received scholarships from the state to attend approved private schools that can better meet their learning needs. The program that makes this possible for families is Maryland’s BOOST Scholarship, short for “Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today.” 

BOOST, which was established by the state in 2016, recognizes that traditional public schools will serve many children well, but some will need a lifeline to another option if they are to succeed and thrive in their education. The BOOST Scholarship is that lifeline, giving low-income families the opportunity to choose a private school that meets their needs.  

Maryland’s only private school choice program, BOOST provided 3,268 scholarships in the 2021-2022 school year to children whose families were looking for a better education fit. About a third of the BOOST scholarship recipients were English language learners, and the average household income of BOOST families was just $35,488. More than 240 of the children were special education students. 

As these numbers show, BOOST is a targeted program, existing to create opportunities for disadvantaged children. To apply for the program, a K-12 student must qualify for free and reduced price meals and must be accepted at a participating nonpublic school. A full list of the 160+ schools are participating for the 2023-2024 school year is available at the Maryland State Department of Education.

For the 2023-2024 school year, Maryland has budgeted $9 million for current and new BOOST scholars. Note that scholarships are distributed to the lowest income families who have applied first. Due to the program’s limited funding, students may be placed on a waitlist once scholarship funding has been used. 

If this program could benefit your family or a family you know, learn more about applying at the Maryland State Department of Education. Online applications generally become available to families in March or April, and BOOST scholarships are generally announced in the summer.