Can Tax Credit Cover Cost of Private School Education?


By Ashley Thompson

Under a new state law, parents with children in a public school listed as failing can move them to private school and get a thirty-five hundred dollar tax credit.

Thirty-five hundred dollars is a decent amount of money but when it comes to the tuition of some private schools, that may not be enough to get you in the door.

Governor Robert Bentley says he is not satisfied with the failing schools in the state.

"Those that are failing and chronically failing and getting worse, we aren't going to tolerate," he says.

The majority of public schools listed as failing are middle schools. So, we tracked down Montgomery County private school tuition costs for 6th through 8th grade students. Cornerstone Classical Christian Academy has one of the lower tuition costs at around $4000 while Trinity Presbyterian School tuition is over ten-thousand.

Some say they would pay just about anything to guarantee their child a good education.

"I wouldn't want my son being in no failing school," says Montgomery resident Pharra Jenkins. "What kind of education are they getting if they're failing?"

Senator Bryan Taylor has supported the Alabama Accountability Act since day one. He says the thirty-five hundred dollar tax credit is not meant to cover the entire tuition cost of a private school, but to provide assistance.

"There's another component to the bill that provides scholarships on top of tax credits," he explains. 

And for families who still can't afford private education with the help of the tax credit and scholarships, Taylor says there are other options.

"If they can't afford a private school, if they don't have a private school in their area that they're interested in, this bill allows them to go to a nearby public school system and get their education there."

Still, there are some who don't support what the new law provides.

"Giving them thirty-five hundred dollars when they're used to going to school for free, that's not enough," says Kanesia Wallace. "Especially for kids, there are some kids going to public schools and have to pay for the meals and can't afford it."

"Money is not the answer," says Angela Newton. "It's really not. It's caring, teaching and responsibility. That's the answer."

Senator Bryan Taylor says portions of the law are still being worked out. He tells Alabama News Network he has confidence in this law because he says it's been done in other states.


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