Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Certified School Tuition Organization (STO)?
Certified School Tuition Organizations (STOs) are established to receive income tax credit contributions that fund scholarships for students to attend qualified private schools located in Arizona (A.R.S. Title 43, Chapters 15 and 16). A nonprofit organization in this state that is exempt or has applied for exemption from federal taxation under section 501(c)(3) may apply to ADOR for certification as an STO. Once certified, an STO may receive tax credit donations from individual and/or corporate taxpayers.
Requirements for an STO to be eligible for and retain certification for receiving tax credit donations:
- The STO must allocate at least 90% of its annual tax credit contributions to scholarships;
- The STO shall not limit the availability of scholarships to students of one school;
- The STO must allow ADOR to verify that the scholarships issued are awarded to students attending a qualified school (corporate income tax credit program);
- The STO must not knowingly collude with any other STO to circumvent the limits of the low-income corporate scholarship (corporate income tax credit program);
- The STO may allow donors to recommend student beneficiaries but shall not award, designate or reserve scholarships solely on the basis of donor recommendations (individual income tax credit programs);
- The STO shall not allow donors to designate student beneficiaries as a condition of any contribution to the organization (individual income tax credit programs);
- The STO shall not facilitate, encourage or knowingly permit the exchange of student beneficiary designations (i.e. swapping) (individual income tax credit programs);
- The STO shall include on the organization’s website, if one exists, the percentage and total dollar amount of educational scholarships and tuition grants awarded during the previous fiscal year to (a) students whose family income is up to 185% of poverty level and (b) students whose family income is greater than 185% of poverty level but not more than 342.25% of poverty level;
- The STO must not award scholarships to students who are simultaneously enrolled in a district school or charter school and a qualified school;
- The STO shall follow all other statutory requirements in A.R.S. §§ 43-1089, 43-1089.03, 43-1089.04 or Title 43, Chapter 16;
- The STO shall follow all other statutory requirements in A.R.S. §§ 20-224.06, 20-224-07, 43-1183, 43-1184 or Title 43, Chapter 15.
Can my contribution be designated to a specific student?
This question is a good one and causes much confusion. While receiving a student recommendation is allowed, a student tuition organization (STO) may not direct funding to a particular student based solely on a donor’s recommendation. That student must also be eligible for funding based on requirements set by the Arizona Department of Revenue as well as the funding criteria set by a particular STO. Each STO has it’s own process.
Each STO determines whether or not it will receive student recommendations. While legal to do so, the AESF Board of Directors has chosen NOT to accept student recommendations with contributions thus keeping separate the contributions and the funding activities of the organization. Contributions may only be designated to an AESF participating school or combination of schools. The schools are provided with a regular detailed reporting of contributions received and manage what is available to their school to be used for various types of scholarship funding.
For AESF, all student funding requests are directed to the schools through submitted AESF applications and the required supporting documents to AESF member schools. The school staff forward applications and documentation to AESF along with their requests for funding for a particular student. AESF reviews all applications and supporting documents to verify eligibility for the funding requested. Providing that the student qualifies under all guidelines for that funding and funds are available for that school, funding will be issued based on that request. Since each school demographic is different, each school is best able to determine the most beneficial way to utilize funding available to support the students who need assistance at that school.
What does this cost me?
Nothing. Your contribution is subtracted in full from total Arizona state taxes owed. You are essentially specifying how to use your own tax dollars.
How much can I give?
To whom can I designate?
You may specify one or more AESF participating schools to receive your contribution
What method of payment can I use?
You can pay by check or by credit card (Visa or MasterCard).
Do I send the funds directly to my school of choice?
No – Contributions must be made directly to a Student Tuition Organization (STO). The Arizona Episcopal Schools Foundation is certified to receive contributions which qualify for the available Arizona State Tax Credits. You may designate your contribution to the participating AESF school of choice.
How are the funds used?
More than 90% of your contribution goes directly to your school of choice or is distributed equally among the member schools.
Why should I designate my tax dollars to support a school?
Contributions received through the Arizona State Tax Credit programs provide much needed scholarship assistance to those students who would otherwise be unable to receive a private education.
How do I contact AESF?
You can call the Foundation directly at: (520) 320-1386.
OR mail your contribution to:
Arizona Episcopal Schools Foundation
PO Box 12927
Tucson, AZ 85732