The state’s scholarship-granting nonprofit, Exceptional SC, has received $9.2 million in donations for school choice grants, according to the S.C. Department of Revenue.
Of that, $4.3 million was awarded to 1,346 students with disabilities during the fall semester, according to the state’s tax agency.
Another 579 new students have completed applications for the scholarships.
The high demand for private school scholarship money means advocates will push the S.C. Legislature to increase to $25 million the value of tax credits available to donors to Exceptional SC, said board chairman Thomas Persons.
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Currently, donors to the nonprofit can claim a tax credit that reduces the state taxes that they owe by up to 60 percent. The state offers up to $10 million in credits for donations to the program.
The state also is offering $2 million in credits to taxpayers who pay private-school tuition out of pocket for children with disabilities.
There are 114 private schools eligible to receive the grants.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, has said he plans to increase the tax credit program to $25 million. Davis also wants to add another $25 million in tax credits for donors to pay for poor children to go to private schools.
The tax credit and grants program – launched in 2014 – has proven popular. Demand for the tax credits has exceeded the amount authorized by the state.
Last year, state lawmakers took direct control of the tax credit program after hearing concerns about how it was being operated by private nonprofit groups.
Until July 1, the state allowed those groups to raise donations, which were eligible for the tax credits, and issue tuition grants to children with disabilities to pay tuition to attend private school. But lawmakers banned the nonprofit scholarship groups from raising money.