PHILADELPHIA – This afternoon, a coalition of more than 30 business, education and community leaders sent a letter to the General Assembly and Governor Wolf calling for an increase to the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) Program by $100 million in the 2019-20 budget.
Pennsylvania’s scholarship tax credit programs – OSTC and Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) – provide a lifeline to students seeking an educational opportunity outside of their assigned school. Combined, these programs provided more than 55,000 PreK-12 scholarships last year, which are used so students can attend participating private or public schools.
Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the scholarship tax credit programs and the caps placed on available scholarship funds, nearly 53,000 scholarship applications were denied last year due to a lack of funds. While incremental increases have been made to the EITC Program since it was established in 2001, the OSTCP Program has been capped at $50 million since it was created in 2012.
A new report from Excellent Schools PA – PA’s Scholarship Tax Credit Programs: A Lifeline for Thousands of Students – makes the case for an additional investment in the OSTC Program, which includes the cost-effectiveness of the program.
“Each year, taxpayers spend $33 billion on education in Pennsylvania,” said Steve DeMaura, Executive Director of Excellent Schools PA. “But, unlike the billions sent to school districts, the funding for scholarship tax credit programs empower parents by ensuring the majority of funds directly benefit students.”
According to that same report, the average OSTC scholarship is $2,400. With an additional $100 million invested in the OSTC Program, more than 41,650 additional scholarships could be awarded next year. This would make a significant dent in providing educational options to the 250,000+ students stranded in Pennsylvania’s bottom 15 percent of schools.