Pennsylvania - Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program
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Pennsylvania – Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program

Pennsylvania – Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program

Pennsylvania’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program, enacted and launched in 2012, offers corporations tax credits for their donations to Opportunity Scholarship Organizations (OSOs) that provide private school scholarships. Students who meet the zoning and income requirements can receive those tax-credit scholarships. Learn more about the program, including funding, eligibility and rules, on this page.

Program Fast Facts

  • 11,417 scholarships awarded (2015–16)

  • 6 percent of students eligible statewide

  • 189 scholarship organizations awarding scholarships (2016–17)

  • 934 schools participating (2017–18)

  • Average scholarship value: $2,668 (2015–16)

  • Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 19 percent

Program Details

Pennsylvania’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program Participation

Scholarships Awarded
School Year Ending

Click the + symbols to learn more about this program’s details.

Pennsylvania offers tax credits for corporate contributions to Scholarship Organizations (SOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships.

Student Funding

SOs determine scholarship amounts, which are capped at $8,500 ($15,000 for students with disabilities), or the amount of a school’s tuition and fees, whichever is less. Public school boards may set up tuition grant programs that allow students to attend a public or private school. For private schools under such programs, the tuition grant is limited to the state’s per-pupil subsidy amount.

Student Eligibility

Students must live in a “low-achieving” school zone, with low-achieving defined as the state’s bottom 15 percent of public schools based on standardized test scores. Also, families are eligible only if their household incomes are less than $77,648 plus $15,230 for each child in the family, adjusted annually for inflation. Income limitations multiply for students with certain disabilities.

EdChoice Expert Feedback

The newer of Pennsylvania’s two tax-credit scholarship programs has a relatively high cap on scholarship values and generally avoids unnecessary regulations on private schools. However, because of the myriad requirements needed to qualify for a scholarship—coupled with the overall funding cap—the chief weakness of Pennsylvania’s newer tax-credit scholarship program is its student eligibility. For this program to grow successfully, Pennsylvania should consider cutting some of the complexity and red tape placed on student eligibility.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: $77,648 + $15,530 per child
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: None
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Scholarship Cap: $8,500 / $15,000 (special needs)
  • Testing Mandates: None
  • Credit Value: 75 percent / 90 percent
  • Total Credit Cap: Yes
  • Budget Cap: $50 million
  • *Limited to students in low-performing schools

 

SO Requirements:

  • Use at least 80 percent of contributions for scholarships
  • Make scholarships available to more than one school
  • Submit annual report detailing donations received and scholarships awarded to the state, including number of scholarships awarded and total and average amounts of scholarships awarded to students from households with a family income that does not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty guideline ($45,510 for a family of four in 2017–18)
  • Submit a copy of a financial audit conducted by a certified accounting firm

Governing Statutes

72 P.S. §§ 8701-G.1 through 8712-G.1

Legal History

No legal challenges have been filed against the program.

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