The Idaho Opportunity Scholarship Fund could see more funding in the near-future if Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur D'Alene, has his way.
Sayler introduced legislation Friday that would allow Idahoans to contribute to the scholarship fund on their state tax forms. Sayler said the money would come from the tax refund of the person wishing to donate, or would add the contribution amount to the person's tax burden.
There would be no program costs to the state general fund, but the act would designate that $3,000 or 20 percent of the money donated to the fund go to the Idaho State Tax Commission for administrative costs. The Tax Commission would also receive $3,000 in funding directly from the scholarship fund for startup costs. Sayler estimates the donation program could generate as much as $72,000 a year for scholarships in Idaho, though he believes it will most likely bring in $50,000 annually.
The scholarship reserve was created in 2007 by Gov. Butch Otter to help provide an "educated workforce" for the state, according to the state's website for the scholarship. The program was initially funded by Otter and the Legislature approving separate $10 million appropriations, though the is to have $100 million in the reserve, which would generate enough interest to provide several scholarships for students in the state.
Students must be a graduate of an Idaho high school, accept all federal grants or scholarships, and be a full-time student meeting academic standards to qualify for aid money from the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship. The website describes the aid as a "last dollars mechanism," available only after a student meets the above requirements and some type of family or personal contribution to the student's education has been made.
The measure cleared the committee on a unanimous vote and will receive further deliberation next week. If the legislation is passed by the House and Senate and signed by Otter, the changes to the tax forms would take effect this year as a result of an emergency clause contained in the bill's text.
STAY CONNECTED with the latest news, research and opinions from the Gem State.