Scholarship stacking is the unregulated practice of allowing students to receive multiple tax credit scholarships from different scholarship organizations so that the resulting benefit to the student is greater than the maximum scholarship value set by law.
The Arizona Department of Revenue has confirmed to us that they believe the intention of Arizona legislators in including a maximum scholarship limit for the Arizona Low-Income Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program was to “save” taxpayer money by setting the cost of educating a student in the Program to something less than the cost of educating the same student in a public school (the 2017-2018 maximum value of a scholarship is $6,600 for students in grades 9 – 12 and $5,300 for students in grades k – 8).
This intent is not unusual. Legislative supporters of tax credit scholarship programs in the other states have successfully used the same argument to pass similar laws – they save taxpayer money. Unfortunately, the Arizona law was written in a way that leaves the administration of these scholarship limits open to interpretation.
It is our belief that scholarship stacking puts this successful and effective Program (and the tens of thousands of students who benefit from it) at risk unnecessarily by allowing those who oppose it to point to stacking as a waste of taxpayer dollars. Subsequently, it is our policy to interpret the law in the same spirit that the Arizona Department of Revenue has told us it was passed – the maximum scholarship value in the law is the maximum per student per year.
It is our mission to provide access to students with economic disadvantages to the best educational setting for their learning needs and we believe that the best way to do that it to strengthen the program – not weaken it. To that end, we encourage the Arizona legislature to raise the annual scholarship value per student, allow it to be used for required books and fees at eligible schools (along with tuition as it is today) and to either regulate the practice of scholarship stacking or prohibit it altogether.
The future of this Program – and all the students who rely on it – is bright. Let’s keep that light shining for them and for the great state of Arizona!