September 12 — 12:42 pm, 2012

All about the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program

  • Few if any scholarships will be available for this school year as the program gears up.
  • To be eligible, students must live in the attendance zone of a state-designated, low-achieving neighborhood school. All of the neighborhood high schools in Philadelphia qualify except those that have been converted to charters. Students must also fall below family income limits of $60,000, plus $12,000 for each dependent.
  • You must find an approved organization through which to get a scholarship.  The list is updated regularly on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website. The organizations can tell you how much money they have, how they’ll give it out, and what schools you can use their scholarships to attend.
  • Scholarship providers working with Philadelphia schools won’t know for months how much money they’ll have to share. The total statewide pot is $50 million, to be raised by the scholarship organizations from businesses, which then get a tax break.
  • The scholarships are not just for students currently in public schools; students already in private schools who meet the income and residency requirements are also eligible. The law does not require the schools or scholarship organizations to give preference to new students.
  • If you do receive one, it’s enough to send your child to many Catholic schools and small private schools, but a fraction of tuition at elite schools. Each scholarship is worth up to $8,500 for regular education students and $15,000 for special education students.
  • You must also meet any admissions requirements of the school. If you want to attend a particular private school, contact that school and ask about admissions and which scholarship providers it works with.

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