Everyone would like to be first in something. First across the finish line. First one picked for a team at recess. First one to explore uncharted waters. Thanks to Arizona's private school scholarships, Sarah is going to be the first person in her family to go to college.
"She continues to inspire me everyday, and she is so gifted and smart," her mom, Star, says. Sarah attends St. Gregory College Preparatory School using a scholarship awarded by a school tuition organization. In Arizona, individuals and businesses can make charitable contributions to these organizations and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their donation. Individuals can contribute $1,000 and married couples can donate up to $2,000, while statewide, the total amount of tax credits to businesses for their donations cannot exceed $20 million (this limit increases by 20 percent annually).
More than 30,000 scholarships were awarded to Arizona children in 2011, including scholarships to 115 children with special needs and more than 4,500 low-income students.
For children trapped in failing schools or assigned to schools that simply aren't a good fit, these scholarships are a lifeline. "Sarah believes she can change the world. There is no doubt in my mind that she will and already is," Star says.
Sarah’s favorite classes are biology and geometry, and she admits, "I'm not a big fan of English, but I love to write." Last fall she had A's in every class but one.
In 2011, Arizonans gave $51 million to scholarship organizations to give children better school opportunities. Sixty-nine businesses gave a total of $11 million. Policymakers can make it easier for businesses to contribute funds by streamlining the donation system and allowing S-corps, or incorporated small businesses, to make contributions.
Sarah still has a few years to go before she applies for college, but she wants to major in environmental studies with a minor in architectural history. The scholarship to St. Gregory is helping to make her dream for her life possible.
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