By The Tablet Staff
The United States’ Secretary of Education’s proposal for a new federal tax credit-based scholarship program is receiving the Brooklyn bishop’s stamp of approval.
The program, known as “Education Freedom Scholarships,” would allow for voluntary contributions to state scholarship-granting organizations by taxpayers. In return, donors to the program would receive a federal tax credit equal to their contribution.
“On behalf of all Catholic, parochial and private school students throughout our country, United States Secretary of Education Besty DeVos is to be commended for this significant proposal,” said the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn in a statement.
“As the costs of schooling continue to rise, any efforts that will make tuition, and thus opportunity, more affordable must be considered,” he continued. “Throughout the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens, our schools offer similar assistance through our Futures in Education.”
Since Futures in Education started in 1989, over 100-million dollars has been awarded to more than 28,000 students. About a third of those families live at or below the poverty line, and the median annual household income of scholarship recipients is $30,000. But close to 3,000 students each year receive no award or an amount insufficient to meet their full need, creating a need for additional assistance of $10 million.
“If approved, this federal program would build on our efforts and would provide even greater financial relief for Brooklyn and Queens families who want a Catholic education for their children, but cannot fully afford one,” said DiMarzio.
The Department of Education believes that the program could fuel up to $5 billion dollars a year into local scholarship programs, including that of Catholic schools.
In a statement last month, DeVos emphasized that the proposal is meant to elevate “freedom for all involved” when it comes to education.
“Students, families, teachers, schools, states – all can participate, if they choose, and do so in the ways that work best for them,” she said.
“The major shift is that a student’s needs and preferences, not their address or family income, will determine the type and quality of education they can pursue,” DeVos continued. The proposal will require the support of both the House of Representatives and the Senate before it is enacted into legislation.