Proponents of school choice in South Carolina are working diligently for families who want a private school education for their children. As you may already know, in 2014 a proviso, the Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children (ECENC), was attached to the state budget and provided a way for South Carolina businesses and individuals to promote school choice through a dollar-for-dollar tax credit that would provide scholarships for qualifying exceptional needs students. The 2015 proviso added a parental tuition tax credit opportunity. The current proviso retains both of these options. Did you know you, too, can participate in this program, directing your SC tax dollars to the cause of school choice?
Two Ways to Receive
The parental tuition tax credit allows parents of qualifying students to receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for the money they spent on tuition. Families of BJA students who likely qualify for the program were alerted ahead of the beginning of the 2017-18 program, and it appears that a good number of them took immediate action upon the opening of the program to receive back through this program’s parental tax credit every dollar of their qualifying student’s tuition. The $2 million allotted for this program was requested very quickly, opening on Saturday, July 1, and, according to the SC Department of Revenue’s website, being fully requested by Wednesday, July 5.
Parents were also alerted to the other part of the program, which offers scholarships for qualifying students. The deadline for the first round of scholarships was August 1. In the last three years, Academy students have received over $58,000 for tuition through this program. We anticipate that additional scholarships will be awarded this fall; the scholarship funding organization is currently working through the applications.
How to Give
The scholarship portion of the ECENC allows a business or individual to donate up to 60 percent of his/her tax liability to a scholarship funding organization (SFO), which in turn presents scholarships to qualifying students who attend qualifying schools. That business or individual who gave the gift receives credit for it on South Carolina taxes due, so the taxes are reduced by that amount. In essence, the contributor is able to support school choice at no cost to himself. If you have not participated in this program in the past, would you consider doing it this year? Your participation not only benefits students and families but also expresses to the legislature that you are interested in school choice, encouraging them to broaden school choice opportunity in South Carolina.
Students who qualify for the ECENC program are often in BJA’s Learning Resource Center program or speech therapy. However, other disabilities can qualify a student for the scholarship. I have been sending email updates to families of students in these categories. If you believe your student may qualify but you have not been receiving these email updates, please feel free to contact me to discuss your student’s situation or ask to be added to my email list.
Detailed information about the ECENC is available here.