Utah’s school voucher application portal launches with initial technical difficulties

Applications for the state’s largest-ever school voucher program opened Wednesday.

(Illustration by Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

The application portal for Utah’s largest-ever school voucher program launched Wednesday morning with an apparent server error.

The brief shutdown was because of a server issue with Amazon Web Services that impacted websites nationwide, said a spokesperson for the Alliance for Choice in Education (ACE) — the organization hired by the Utah State Board of Education to manage the voucher program and application process.

“The site was up and running within 15 minutes of the anticipated launch time,” an ACE spokesperson said. “Parents were notified of this issue and a customer support team was available to families during that time.”

Despite the technical difficulties, ACE reported receiving more than 500 applications within the first 30 minutes of the portal going live, the spokesperson said.

The “Utah Fits All Scholarship” voucher program was passed under HB215 during last year’s legislative session, despite opposition from teachers and nearly every education organization in Utah.

It provides enough funding for 5,000 students to each receive $8,000 starting in the 2024-25 school year. That money can be used toward private school tuition, textbooks, tutoring and other “qualified expenses.”

[Read more: Everything you need to know about Utah’s new private school scholarship program]

Lawmakers this year said they anticipate nearly seven times more applicants than the number of scholarships currently available. In early February, they requested a $108 million increase in spending for the program starting in fall 2025.

Though they did not get that full amount, legislators approved a $40 million funding boost next year before the application portal had launched.

Those interested have until April 15 to apply for the scholarship. Awards will not be issued until after the application window closes.