Here is a situation facing many Jewish families: You want to send your child — or children — to a top-rated area Jewish day school or pre-K.
Yet when the price tag on tuition at day school, or even pre-K, is taken into effect, sometimes the reaction is to throw up your hands in frustration.
But the Foundation for Jewish Day Schools, in cooperation with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, through two Pennsylvania Department of Education programs — the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) — are there to help.
The processes for obtaining student aid through the EITC and OSTC are the same.
The Foundation for Jewish Day Schools, created by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia in partnership with regional Jewish day schools, is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its mission is to provide needs-based school scholarships, with an expanded opportunity to support enhanced curriculum content for public school students.
Via the EITC and OSTC programs, and the contributions of business and individual donors, for the 2017-2018 school year, the foundation reported awarding in excess of $6.5 million in need-based scholarships, enabling more than 790 students from low- to moderate-income homes to attend Greater Philadelphia Jewish day schools. The foundation also reported awarding more than $780,000 in scholarships to almost 250 pre-K students.
“We are certainly here to further Jewish education in the Greater Philadelphia area and help as many as families as we can,” said Ellen Horowitz Matz, director of educational tax programs. “There is a specific process applicants need to follow.
“We would like to have applications submitted by March 31 to guarantee participation review in the first phase of the process that leads to a scholarship. We will consider applications until late May or early June, which will be definitely reviewed, and will be considered in the second round, scheduled for early winter.”
An eligible day-school student is school age, living in Pennsylvania and enrolled in a foundation-affiliated school. An eligible pre-K student is aged 3-6, having turned 3 by Dec. 31 of that academic year and enrolled in a foundation-affiliated school.
The program is restricted to households with an income of less than $85,000. An allowance of $15,608 is permitted for each student in the household. For example, the allowance with one child is $100,608, while the allowance would be $116,216 for a two-child household. It is not required that all children in a household attend a private school.
The pre-K allowances match the K-12 allowances. There are additional support levels for special needs children, with the total of $85,000 plus the student allowance(s) multiplied by 1.5.
A list of affiliated day schools and pre-Ks can be found on the foundation’s website at jewishphilly.org/ways-to-give/eitc-ostc-pre-k-participating- schools/.
The application process is not complex.
The family applies to the intended foundation-affiliated school, whose financial-aid people provide a link to a third-party vendor who will determine eligibility for EITC or OSTC. In addition, a school may have its own process for other scholarship awards.
A family’s eligibility is finalized, and the school then makes award determinations as funds allow. The funds are distributed by the foundation to the schools as tuition remission, not to the families themselves.
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