Many smaller Vermont towns do not operate a local high school and some towns do not operate a local elementary or middle school. Students in these towns are eligible for a voucher to choose from among public or non-religious independent schools in other towns (even outside of the state or nation).
Under the voucher system, the "sending" towns pay tuition directly to the "receiving" schools. While most sending towns allow parents to choose a school, some towns "designate" a particular school to receive all their students (though waivers sometimes are granted).
When students are tuitioned at a Vermont public school, the sending town pays the receiving school district's full cost. When students are tuitioned at independent schools or out-of-state schools, the voucher is worth the Vermont statewide average per-pupil cost as calculated by the Department of Education. Because this amount often is less than the tuition and fees charged by independent schools, parents are responsible for the cost above the voucher's value.
Participating independent schools must be non-religious, obey anti-discrimination laws and meet state standards for independent schools.