Thousands of Scholarship Applications Denied, Again
Pennsylvania's tax credit scholarship programs, EITC (Education Improvement Tax Credit) and OSTC (Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit), have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of students with a private education that meets their needs.
But the immense demand for alternatives to zip-code assigned schools continues to overwhelm these programs. Last year we reported nearly 53,000 student tax credit scholarship rejections due to program limits—52 percent of all applications.
Brand new data from the Department of Community and Economic Development shows 49,000 scholarship applications were denied for 2017-18 school year—despite a $10 million (13 percent) increase in the EITC cap.
Table: Tax Credit Scholarship Caps 2017-18
If tax credit scholarships aren't increased, students will continue to be denied access to a quality education. They’ll be less likely to attend and graduate from college, more likely to persist in poverty, and more likely to engage in criminal activity and become incarcerated.
We must expand EITC and OSTC.
Thankfully, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently passed HB 800 in a bipartisan vote. The bill's momentum has continued by passing the Senate Education Committee, also in a bipartisan vote. The legislation, sponsored by House Speaker Mike Turzai, would increase the EITC cap by $100 million next year to address the current $80 million business waitlist for credits.
HB 800 would allow the EITC cap to increase by 10 percent if 90 percent of tax credits are used in the prior year. Considering the recent 13 percent increase still left thousands of students without options, it’s a modest proposal. Nonetheless, it will help ensure future applications aren’t denied due to arbitrary government-imposed caps.
Infographic: Pa. Tax Credit Scholarships
HB 800 also helps students who have been denied an OSTC scholarship due to caps since those students are equally eligible for EITC. It's time to raise the limits on our students’ opportunities.