Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program
- Tax-Credit Scholarship
- Enacted 2001
- Launched 2001
The Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program offers tax credits for corporate contributions to the following nonprofit organizations: scholarship organizations (SOs), which provide private school scholarships; educational improvement organizations (EIOs), which support innovative programs in public schools; or prekindergarten scholarship organizations (PKSOs). These nonprofits provide low- and middle-income families private school and prekindergarten scholarships, as well as organizations that support innovative public school programs. Learn more about this program’s funding, eligibility and regulations on this page.
We do not administer this program.
Scholarships Awarded (2018–19)
of Families with Children Income-eligible Statewide
Scholarship Organizations (2017
Average Scholarship Value (2018–19)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program
Each approved organization determines scholarship amounts. Tax credits are worth 75 percent of the contribution; however, a 90 percent credit can be claimed if the corporation commits to two consecutive annual contributions (with recent pandemic-related legislation allowing companies more time to donate to benefit from the 90 percent credit as well as carry credits forward two additional years). In either case, the maximum tax credit is $750,000 per company; however, this cap is lifted from October 1 through November 30 during years where there are unclaimed credits. Credits are awarded to companies on a first-come, first-served basis until the $185 million cap is reached.
Children are eligible for scholarships if their household incomes are less than $96,676 plus $17,017 for each child in the family in 2021–22. For example, a family with one child must have an income below $108,382, whereas a family with three children must have an income below $140,826. The figures increase in subsequent years to account for inflation. Students with special needs are eligible for scholarships if they come from families who earn 150 percent of the baseline income level (for example, a family with one child may earn up to $170,540 in 2021–22) or less, and those with the most severe special needs who are enrolled in special education-specific schools are eligible if they come from families who earn 299 percent of the baseline income level ($339,942 for a one-child family in 2021–22) or less.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit 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 students from low- and middle-income families. Almost 3 in 4 Pennsylvania students are eligible for a scholarship but less than 5percent of students statewide actually use a scholarship from one of Pennsylvania’s two tax-credit scholarship programs (including the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program).
The average scholarship size is about $2,000, which is only about 13 percent of the average expenditure per student at Pennsylvania’s district schools. Tax credits are worth 75 percent to 90 percent of the value of the contributions to scholarship organizations, but only $175 million in tax credits are available for K–12 scholarships annually, which is equivalent to only 0.42 percent of Pennsylvania’s total K–12 revenue.
In order to expand access to educational choice, Pennsylvania 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.
Pennsylvania’s scholarship program generally avoids unnecessary and counterproductive regulations.
Rules and Regulations
- Income Limit: $96,676 + $17,017 per child (higher for students with special needs)
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
- Geographic Limit: Statewide
- Enrollment Cap: None
- Scholarship Cap: Full tuition
- Testing Mandates: None
- Credit Value: 75 / 90 percent
- Per Donor Credit Cap: $750,000
- Total Tax Credit Cap: $175 million for K – 12 scholarships (plus $12.5 million for prekindergarten scholarships)
- Use at least 80 percent of contributions for scholarships
- Make scholarships available for more than one school
- Submit an annual report detailing donations received and scholarships awarded and proof of a financial review by a certified public accountant
- Verify applicants’ income information
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.
Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program State Groups
That Support School Choice
The Reach Foundation (Road to Educational Achievement Through Choice) and its sister organization, The REACH Alliance, are Pennsylvania’s grassroots coalitions dedicated to ensuring parental choice in education.