Happy Birthday, EITC!

Today is the 19th anniversary of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC). This program—the first of its kind in the nation—allows businesses to receive tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations. The donations, in turn, empower low- and middle-income families to send their children to a private school that meets their needs.

EITC is a rare government program that creates win-win-win situations. School districts and taxpayers win by saving money. The most recent figures show Pennsylvania spends more than $18,000 per student in public schools. Meanwhile, the average EITC scholarship is just $1,800—a savings of 90%. Businesses win because they are able to support local schools in their communities and receive a partial credit on their state taxes. And, most importantly, students win by being able to attend the schools that work for them.

To mark the anniversary of this innovative program, we’re releasing polling data today that shows 71% of Pennsylvanians support the EITC.


Infographic: Pennsylvanians Support EITC

It’s no wonder the EITC program enjoys such broad support. Over the years, we’ve profiled many students whose lives have been changed for the better thanks to EITC scholarships.

  • Anthony grew up in a very violent area of Philadelphia. He says he’s the only male in his family without a police record. He saw his first shootout when he was just 9 years old. Today, he’s a successful businessman, and he is grateful for his tax credit scholarship that put him on a path to a better life.
  • Ziva struggled in her former district school; her teacher told her parents she couldn’t learn. The school had given up on her. Then her mom learned about tax credit scholarships and was able to transfer Ziva and her other kids to a small Catholic school. The children are all thriving in their new learning environment.
  • Myles feels fortunate that a tax credit scholarship gave him options besides his local district school, which is consistently among the worst schools in the state. A rising senior, Myles now advocates for more school choice so other kids have access to the opportunities he’s enjoyed thanks to his scholarship.
Unfortunately, for every EITC success story, there is a child who has been left behind by arbitrary caps on the program. Between EITC and the companion Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC), nearly 50,000 scholarship applications are denied each year due to these caps. Given the tremendous benefits of tax credit scholarships, we need to raise the caps so more kids can participate in these programs.

As we’ll be detailing over the coming weeks, there is broad support for more school choice across Pennsylvania. If you can’t wait for our weekly releases, the entire report and accompanying infographics are available at www.commonwealthfoundation.org/2020educationpoll