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Economic Impact of Scholarship Tax Credit Updated

Oklahoma City University’s economic research center released a fiscal impact study of the state’s Equal Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit for fiscal year 2017.

The Opportunity Scholarship Fund commissioned the study from the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute, a research center in the Meinders School of Business at OCU.

Among the key findings in the latest report:

  • The fiscal savings of the program to the state budget are estimated to be $2.91 for every $1 in tax credits issued; the fiscal savings are projected to increase to $3.16 for every $1 in tax credits issued with the recent $500 million increase in education appropriations.
  • The number of scholarships awarded for the 2017-18 year was 2,466, an increase of 836 scholarships from a year ago, with an average scholarship award of $1,883.31.
  • The average scholarship awards and community participation continues to grow.

The entire report is available for review online at okcu.edu/business/centers/erpi.

The Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act, which took effect in 2011, offers state income tax credits in exchange for qualifying donations that provide private school opportunities to primarily low-income K-12 students.

Jacob Dearmon, director of the Center for Data Analytics in OCU’s economic and research policy institute, and Russell Evans, executive director of the institute, led the study. Their team followed a research approach that was used by a similar study conducted in Florida.

“The fiscal impact of the program weighs the fiscal cost of the program in tax credits claimed against the savings of the program from foregone state education expenditures,” Evans said. “While the primary purpose of the program is to facilitate individual school choice, a secondary impact is a significant fiscal return to the state.” Oklahoma is one of several states that have a tax credit scholarship program. Under Oklahoma’s program, a tax credit of 50 percent is offered for one-time donations and 75 percent is offered for equal pledge amounts for two years. Credits are capped at $100,000 for qualified business donors, $2,000 for taxpayers filing a joint tax return and $1,000 for individual tax filers.