Students have one chance at their K through 12 school experience and the Children Scholarship Fund – NH strives to help put the best fit school within reach for families of low and modest means. Twenty-one states offer tax-credit scholarship programs, and New Hampshire is fortunate to be one of them. The education tax credit (ETC) helps one student at a time, providing life-changing opportunities.
The largest scholarship organization operating in the Granite State is the Children’s Scholarship Fund – NH (originally called the Network for Educational Opportunity) and began in 2013. In its first three years they helped more than 200 students with scholarships exceeding $300,000.
The scholarships may be used for an out-of-district public school placement, private or religious school tuition, as well as homeschool expenses. Families — not the scholarship organization — select the schools that best meet their children’s needs. The application must be received no later than June 1 for the next school year. The CSF-NH program gives preferential awards to lower-income families, particularly those who are currently enrolled in public schools. Although scholarships can bridge the difference in tuition, they do not cover 100%. Families are required to contribute a quarter of the funding themselves. They make great sacrifices to cover the differences, but it gives them a vested interest in their family’s commitment to the program and their child’s academic success.
These scholarships have transformed families as well as given new hope and opportunities to NH students. In February 2014 CSF-NH (then the Network for Educational Opportunity) published a video with their scholarship families discussing the impact the scholarship has on them. Also, the Cato Institute produced a video in January 2015 about the history of the program.
The program has faced four legislative repeal efforts as well as a lawsuit filed by current state Board of Education member, Mr. Bill Duncan. These efforts have been defeated.
Families have said the following about the scholarship program.
“I feel like the private school saved my daughter. After being bullied and harassed so severely in public school I made the choice to move her, no matter the sacrifices I had to make to afford it.”
“My child is doing the best academically that she has ever done. We have also seen social improvement since attending her new school.”
“With the help of this scholarship program we were able to have a more manageable tuition payment so that our son was able to go to this school. We thank you for this opportunity.”
“Our family is both helped and encouraged by the investment in our homeschooled student. Just a small scholarship has made schooling easier.”
As donations grow, CSF-NH’s ability to help more families also increases. All funds are raised through private donations, from businesses as well as individuals. CSF-NH is a 501c3, so donations are similar to those for the Red Cross, the Rotary Foundation, or any other charity; all donations are tax deductible. Businesses can claim donations against their state Business Profit Taxes and Business Enterprise Taxes as well as federal taxes for nearly a 90% tax benefit. Business donations are accepted January 1 through June 15 of each year, and go through the NH Department of Revenue on a first-come, first-served basis until the credit cap is reached.
Each year the Children’s Scholarship Fund – NH has grown, and 2016 is expected to be a big year for the program. For more information about applying or donating to the program, contact executive director, Ms. Kate Baker, at email@example.com.