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Fuqua launches scholarship program

Fuqua School has partnered with The GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP) in an effort to make the school more accessible to community members by offsetting tuition rates.

John Melton

More specifically, the school will utilize GRASP’s Education Improvement Scholarship Program (EISP), which provides scholarships for private schools that partner with GRASP.

“GRASP is one of 40 approved foundations statewide that participate in Virginia’s Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program (EISTCP),” the GRASP website cited. The program receives funds from donors throughout Virginia. “Through this program, qualified donors may receive a 65 (percent) state tax credit, in addition to the standard 35 (percent) federal charitable deduction.”

Recipients could see scholarships up to $6,000, Head of Fuqua School John Melton said.

The EISTCP, according to the Virginia Department of Education website, “provides state tax credits for persons or businesses making monetary or marketable securities donations to approved scholarship foundations that provide scholarships to eligible students for qualified educational expenses incurred in attending eligible nonpublic schools in Virginia.”

To be eligible, the GRASP website cites that an applicant must be a U.S. citizen and a Virginia resident from a family whose household income is 300 percent or less of the federal poverty guideline. Melton said applicants would have to be entering kindergarten or first grade, or transferring to Fuqua from a public school system. For students with disabilities, students must be 400 percent or less of the federal poverty guideline and enrolling in a private K-12 school.

“For a family of four, that would mean their income would need to be below $75,000 in order for them to qualify,” Melton said, saying the aim for the scholarship is to reach middle class and working class poor families.

“If I’m a family applying to Fuqua School that lives in Prince Edward County or Cumberland County or Buckingham County, and I apply to Fuqua School knowing the tuition is $8,500, but then GRASP comes in and funds $6,000 of that, now I have a $2,500 difference to make up, and that’s manageable, at least hopefully it is,” Melton said. “In a rural area like ours where independent schools like Fuqua are less expensive, the GRASP foundation can really get you closer to a price point the family can afford.”

Fuqua School, Melton said, does not receive benefits from the GRASP program beyond the tuition scholarships awarded.

He said this scholarship also comes at a time when both public and private schools in southside Virginia are seeing a trend of decreased enrollment.

Melton said enrollment for the first or second week or the 2017-2018 school year came to 327, a decrease from previous years.

Melton said the state benefits from the GRASP program because students who transfer from public to private school would no longer need the tax assistance that the state provides for students of public education.

“There’s sort of a win-win component to it,” Melton said.

“In my experience, the more choices people have, the better,” Melton said about public and private education. “This just takes a choice that already exists but is difficult to access because of the costs, and makes it more accessible to families who may want it, but were previously unable to afford it.”