Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program
- Tax-Credit Scholarship
- Enacted 2006
- Launched 2006
Arizona offers tax credits to businesses supporting school tuition organizations (STOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships to low-income students in need. Students are able to receive more than one scholarship from STOs in a given year. Learn more about the program on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.
We do not administer this program.
Scholarships Awarded (2018–19)
of Families with Children Income-Eligible Statewide
Participating Schools (2018–19)
Scholarship Organizations Awarding Scholarships (2018–19)
Average Scholarship Value (2018–19)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Arizona’s Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program Participation
Each school tuition organization (STO) determines the amount of scholarships it distributes. Scholarships are capped at $5,600 in grades K–8 and $6,900 in grades 9–12 for 2020–21. Those amounts increase annually by $100. Corporate taxpayers that contribute to STOs may claim a tax credit equal to the full amount of their contribution. The program is limited to a total of $123million in available tax credits in 2020–21, a figure that will rise by a decreasing rate until 2022–23.
All students who receive scholarships under this program must come from families whose household incomes are equal to or below 185 percent of the federal free and reduced-price lunch program guidelines ($96,940 for a family of four in 2020–21). Additionally, students must either be (1) enrolled in private school kindergarten, (2) enrolled in a private preschool program for students with disabilities, (3) a public school enrollee for at least 90 days in the previous year or one full semester of the current school year, (4) a dependent of an active-duty member of the military stationed in Arizona or (5) a prior scholarship recipient under this program or the individual tax-credit scholarship program.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Arizona’s low-income corporate-donor tax-credit scholarship program helps tens of thousands of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do more to expand educational opportunity.
Eligibility for the scholarships is limited to 18 percent of the federal poverty line. About 56 percent of Arizona students are eligible to receive a scholarship via this program, and all students are eligible to receive a scholarship via the individual-donor scholarship program. Statewide, 6.7 percent of students participate in one of Arizona’s private educational choice options (including the universal-eligibility Original Individual-Donor Tax-Credit Scholarship Program, the “Switcher” Tax-Credit Scholarship Program, Lexie’s Law for Disabled and Displaced Students Tax-Credit Scholarship Program, and the Empowerment Scholarship Account Program). This is the highest EdChoice share in the nation.
The average scholarship size is only about $2,300, which is only about 24 percent of the average expenditure per student at Arizona’s district schools, but there is no cap on scholarship values and students may receive more than one scholarship . Students with special needs, students in foster care, and those who have switched from the public school system can also receive scholarships via the other tax-credit scholarship programs, in addition to the original scholarship program that is available to all students. Tax credits are worth 100 percent of the value of the contributions to scholarship organizations, but only $123 million in tax credits are available annually, which is equivalent to only 1.3 percent of Arizona’s total K–12 revenue.
In order to expand access to educational choice, Arizona policymakers should increase the amount of tax credits available and restore the automatic “escalator” that allowed the total tax credit cap to grow over time to meet demand.
Arizona’s scholarship program generally avoids unnecessary and counterproductive regulations.
Rules and Regulations
- Income Limit: 185 percent x FRL
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: Yes
- Geographic Limit: Statewide
- Enrollment Cap: None
- Scholarship Cap: $5,600 (K–8), $6,900 (9–12)
- Testing Mandates: None
- Credit Value: 100 percent
- Per Donor Credit Cap: None
- Budget Cap: $123.0 million
- Use at least 90 percent of contributions for scholarships
- Make scholarships available for more than one school
- Must allow the state to verify that scholarships are awarded to students who attend a qualified school
- Report annually to the state:
- data on accepted contributions, grants awarded, and the amount of money being held for identified student scholarships in future years
- a list of participating schools with the number and dollar amount of scholarship awards received
- the salaries of the STO’s top three officials for the fiscal year and proof of independent review of financial statements by a certified public accountant
On March 12, 2009, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld Arizona’s corporate tax-credit scholarships and the Arizona Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal. Green v. Garriott, 212 P.3d 96 (Ariz. App. 2009).
Low-Income Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program State Groups
That Support School Choice
Love Your School is a great resource for Arizona families looking for the best schooling options for their children. They also share the latest happenings in AZ education, families’ personal stories and more.
Empowered Arizona Families exists to give a public voice to families that utilize the Empowerment Scholarship Account program in Arizona. This organization is operated by ESA families, for ESA families.
Arizona’s Association of School Tuition Organizations (ASTOA) is the only membership organization that works solely on behalf of and provides a unified voice for Arizona’s school tuition organizations (STOs).
The Arizona Department of Revenue has approved this list of school tuition organizations to receive donations through the state’s tax-credit scholarship programs. These organizations provide private school scholarships to eligible students.