The tax-credit scholarship is facing multiple attacks in the legislature this year. The first one is HB 632 and is being fast-tracked to the House Ways and Means Committee, entirely skipping the Education Committee as is the usual protocol to first go to the policy committee. Although the public hearing is not scheduled yet, we expect it will be soon. This bill would completely repeal the program.
The scholarship program began in 2013 and to date has helped 877 children. It allows private donations – not state funds – to be given to a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to low-income children. Scholarships may be used for tuition at out-of-district public schools, private school tuition, or home education expenses. Donors receive a credit against their business enterprise or profits tax; individuals receive a credit against their income taxes.
As defined in statute, the program can only help low-income students, those at or below 300% of the federal poverty limit. The 2018 guideline for a family of four is a maximum annual income of $75,300. These families also qualify for a range of federal assistance programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Poverty is a major contributor to a range of long-term academic problems. According to The Condition of Education (2018) by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), living in poverty has a great impact for the duration of a child’s academic years, from kindergarten through high school. The report says, “…and living in poverty are associated with poor educational outcomes, including low achievement scores, having to repeat a grade, and dropping out of high school.”
These private scholarships put educational opportunities within reach for families that they otherwise could not access. Educational opportunities close the academic gap for at-risk students.
Brandon is a scholarship recipient and is raised by his grandmother, Maureen. In an interview last year, she said that “having a good education gives him a fighting chance” to “break the cycle of poverty.”
This is why the tax-credit scholarship program is so critical to these vulnerable students. They are most at-risk for falling behind, dropping out of school, and facing a harder future without an education that fits their needs.
One NH scholarship-recipient mom, Susan Orlowski, shared this:
For my children, who have been raised for the past eight years in a single-parent, poverty-level home, everything should be going badly. Thanks to CSFNH, we are able to choose an educational environment that best fits our individual needs. We are able to exercise that choice because of CSF’s mission to ensure every child’s right to an education that matches his or her needs, desires, and goals. My children are all doing very well in the private school we selected, and they have been doing consistently well for four years now. Thanks to Mount Royal Academy’s excellence and CSF’s diligence in helping kids who would just be more sad news, my children are strong, successful, hard-working, and have earned the pride and applause of so many who know them.
New Hampshire has two small scholarship programs. The largest is the Children’s Scholarship Fund New Hampshire and the other is the Giving and Going Alliance. Combined, they supported 877 children with private scholarships since its inception in 2013. While this makes all the difference for struggling students, it does not have a negative financial impact on local or state education funding. In fact, supporting educational opportunities for low-income, at-risk children produces positive outcomes for our communities.
Diminishing or repealing the tax-credit scholarship would have a devastating effect on our most vulnerable children.
Contact the House Ways and Means Committee today. Brief phone calls are most effective; personal stories can be particularly compelling. Mention if you are a constituent. Their emails are as follows for an easy copy/paste.
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