Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program
- Tax-Credit Scholarship
- Enacted 2014
- Launched 2015
Kansas offers tax credits to individuals and businesses supporting scholarship-granting organizations (SGOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships to low-income students in the 100 lowest-performing public elementary schools as defined by the state. This is Kansas’ first school choice program. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations and more.
We do not administer this program.
Students Participating (2020-21)
of Families Eligible Statewide
Participating Scholarship Organizations (2020-21)
Participating Schools (2020-21)
Average Scholarship Value (2019–20)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Kansas’s Tax Credit for Low Income Students Scholarship Program Participation
Each SGO determines the amount of the scholarships it distributes, but no scholarship amount can exceed the cost of tuition, fees, expenses and transportation by a qualified school. The maximum scholarship amount is $8,000.
Children are eligible to receive scholarships if their family income does not exceed 100 percent of the guidelines needed to qualify for the free or reduced price lunch program ($49,025 for a family of four in 2021–2022). Children must be between ages 5 and 21 to participate. In addition, children must have been enrolled in any public school the previous school year, unless the child is younger than 6.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Kansas’ tax-credit scholarship program helps hundreds of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do much more to expand educational opportunity.
Eligibility for the scholarships is limited to students assigned to one of the 100 lowest-performing schools in Kansas who are also from families earning up to 130 percent of the federal poverty line, making it one of the most restrictive educational choice programs in the nation. Only 5 percent of Kansas students are eligible for a scholarship and less than 0.1 percent of students statewide actually use a scholarship.
The average scholarship size is just over $4,600, which is about 24 percent of the average expenditure per student at Kansas’ district schools, but the cap on scholarship values is significantly higher ($8,000). Tax credits are worth only 70 percent of the value of the contributions to scholarship organizations. Policymakers should consider raising the credit value to make it easier for SGOs to raise money and distribute scholarships. Additionally, only $10 million in tax credits are available annually, which is equivalent to only 0.15 percent of Kansas’ total K–12 revenue.
In order to expand access to educational choice, Kansas policymakers should dramatically increase the available tax credits and expand eligibility to all students (prioritizing scholarships based on need). The program could also be converted into an education savings account to ensure that all students have access to the education that’s the right fit for them, whether private school or a customized course of education.
Kansas’ tax-credit scholarship program generally avoids unnecessary and counterproductive regulations.
Rules and Regulations
- Income Limit: 185 percent x Poverty
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: Yes
- Geographic Limit: None
- Enrollment Cap: None
- Scholarship Cap: $8,000
- Testing Mandates: None
- Credit Value: 70 percent
- Per Donor Credit Cap: $500,000
- Total Tax Credit Cap: $10 million
- Use at least 90 percent of contributions for scholarships within 36 months of receiving the contributions
- Issue a receipt prescribed by the Secretary of Revenue to any contributing taxpayer
- Receive written verification from the state board of education that a student is eligible prior to awarding an educational scholarship to students previously enrolled in a public school
- Report to the state board of education all students that receive a scholarship
- Provide the state board of education a surety bond or financial information demonstrating the SGO’s ability to pay the amount expected to be received during the school year if the SGO exceeds $50,000 in donations
- Ensure that qualified schools that receive scholarships are in compliance with the requirements of the program
- Have its accounts examined and audited by a certified public accountant at the end of the calendar year
- for verification that the education scholarships that were awarded were distributed to eligible students
- and file a copy of the audit with the state board of education
- Submit annually to the state (via a report approved by a certified public accountant):
- Names and addresses of eligible students receiving an educational scholarship by the SGO
- Total number and dollar amount of contributions received during the preceding 12-month period
- Total number and dollar amount of educational scholarships awarded the preceding 12-month period to eligible students
No legal challenges have been filed against this program.