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Entries in Scholarships (2)

Monday
Apr042011

Supreme Court Upholds Tax Credits for Donations to Religious Non-Profits

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A sharply divided Supreme Court on Monday found that Arizona taxpayers do not have the legal right to challenge a state law that allows residents to receive tax credits for contributions to non-profit organizations . The law allows those non-profit organizations to use the funds to give scholarships to children who want to attend private schools.

The taxpayers had challenged the law arguing that in practice the non-profit groups only provided aid to students attending religious schools in violation of the Constitution. The Establishment Clause of the Constitution prohibits government actions from favoring one religion over another.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, joined by the four conservative justices, said that taxpayers only have the so-called "legal standing" to bring such a suit if it involves a government expenditure, not a tax credit.

The Arizona legislature passed the law in 1997 to encourage greater educational choice for disadvantaged elementary school children. Any taxpayer can participate, but parents are forbidden from earmarking a donation for their child.

Because the court found that the taxpayers could not bring the suit, it did not reach a decision on whether the law itself is constitutional.

Monday’s decision will narrow the ability for taxpayers in general to challenge alleged Establishment Clause violations. A number of other states have programs like Arizona.

"This is a big deal because it permits the government to aid religious causes through the tax credit device without fear of any litigation that might disturb the government policy," says Ira. C. Lupu, an expert on church and state issues at George Washington Law School.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb282011

Nonprofit Gives Scholarships to White Males Only

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN MARCOS, Texas) -- When Colby Bohannan was looking for college financial aid nine years ago, he concluded that he was at a disadvantage because of his race.

"In the landscape of the scholarship foundations in this country, there is just one demographic that does not have a single dedicated scholarship," he told ABC News. And that demographic, said Bohannan, is white males.

Bohannan said he found a plethora of scholarship options for minorities and women when he was searching in 2002, but not one dedicated solely to white males.

So after taking a hiatus from school during which he served in the Iraq War, Bohannan launched the Former Majority Association for Equality, a nonprofit organization that takes its name from the fact that according to U.S. census numbers, non-Hispanic whites make up only 45 percent of the Texas state population.

"Trying to afford an education is not easy," said Bohannan, 28. "Just because you're white and male doesn't mean you have a bunch of money lying around to pay for books and rent."

The Association, which Bohannan started with his cousin Brandon Bohannan and William Lake, the group's treasurer, plans to offer five $500 scholarships to eligible students -- white males -- from anywhere in the country.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone agrees that white males need a dedicated scholarship.

"Our largest state-funded financial aid program is the Texas Grants program, and in 2009 we served about 63,000 students," said Dominic Chavez at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which promotes greater access to higher education in the state.

"I am not sure I accept the premise that these programs are targeting students of color," Chavez said. "These programs are targeted to poor Texans. There is no consideration of race [or] ethnicity for the allocation of these awards."

The board's goal is to increase enrollment of every single ethnic group in higher education by 5.7 percent -- that includes whites as well as blacks, Asians and Hispanics, said Chavez, who pointed out that college enrollment rates are down among males across all ethnic groups.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio