Arizona School Choice Programs in Brief

Published September 1, 2006

Corporate Tuition Tax Credit
Arizona’s Corporate Tuition Tax Credit allows corporations to receive credit against their state taxes for donations to approved school tuition organizations and nonprofits that distribute scholarships. This measure builds on Arizona’s Individual Tuition Tax Credit program, which has awarded more than 100,000 scholarships since its inception in 1998.

Unlike the individual contributions, the corporate contributions are limited to programs for low-income students currently enrolled in public schools or entering the education system for the first time. Children in families with incomes that do not exceed 185 percent of the income level set for the federal reduced-price lunch program are eligible. For instance, a family of four with a combined household income below $66,000 would qualify.

The program’s initial $5 million cap was doubled during budget negotiations for fiscal year 2007 and will increase 20 percent annually thereafter. By 2011, corporate contributions could exceed $20 million, benefitting between 5,000 and 7,000 low-income students.

Displaced Pupils Choice Grant Program

This year, Arizona became the first state in the nation to adopt a voucher program for foster care children statewide. The Displaced Pupils Choice Grant Program allocates $2.5 million in education grants to current and former foster children. Individual grants worth a maximum of $5,000 can be applied to public, charter, or participating private schools statewide.

“The average foster care child changes homes five times. That can also mean five schools,” leading to academic setbacks, explained Goldwater Institute President Darcy Olsen. “This [program] gives children in a constant state of impermanence the same schools, the same friends, the same teachers.”

Arizona Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program

Modeled after Florida’s McKay Scholarship Program, the $2.5 million Arizona scholarships program gives pupils with disabilities the opportunity to attend any public or qualified private school of their choice if their parent is dissatisfied with their progress in their current public school.

The program “equalizes access to private schools among the rich and poor,” explained Matthew Ladner, the Goldwater Institute’s vice president of research, “and gives leverage to parents who cannot access specialized special education attorneys.”

— Arwynn Mattix