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Invest in Kids

How Illinois’ new law revolving around scholarships may impact Parker

Admissions+coordinator+Melisha+Hicks+answers+emails+in+the+Admissions+Office.
Admissions coordinator Melisha Hicks answers emails in the Admissions Office.

Admissions coordinator Melisha Hicks answers emails in the Admissions Office.

Photo by Lauren Hughes

Photo by Lauren Hughes

Admissions coordinator Melisha Hicks answers emails in the Admissions Office.

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On August 31, the Illinois legislature passed a law that, according to the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund, could increase economic diversity at independent schools, such as Parker. The law, which goes by the name of “The Invest in Kids Act,” allows for a 75 percent tax credit for donations to poor and working class students to fund for their private school education, which means, for example, that for every dollar donated, 75 cents would be taken off the donor’s tax liability.

The tax credit won’t eliminate the need for Parker to raise additional scholarship funds through fundraisers, such as the bi-annual Auction and Scholarship Dinners. Since scholarships funded under the program are capped at approximately $13,000 per student, additional funds will still be needed to make up the gap between the maximum scholarship amount and the Parker tuition.

Since the start of Parker in 1901, financial aid was provided to lower income families to improve diversity at the school. Principal Dan Frank said, “Parker was founded on the belief that it was really important to have a broad economic representation.”

For many years, Parker has been a partner school to multiple scholarship programs. One of these organizations is LINK Unlimited Scholars, a scholarship program for “economically disadvantaged African-American students” that, according to its website, otherwise “would have limited options for a rigorous high school experience that well prepares them for college and success.”

Another organization that Parker partners with is the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund (DMSF). According to its mission, “DMSF seeks to make a life-altering difference in the lives of its Scholars by providing them with the best opportunity to succeed in high school and college.”

“We have a long-standing relationship with Daniel Murphy,” Director of Admission and Financial Aid, Karen Fisher said. “They provide a stipend for financial aid students who are admitted to Parker.” The financial aid program at Parker has greatly benefitted from the help of this organization.

“Daniel Murphy can benefit from this law by how many more students it can serve,” DMSF representative, Nancy Van Grinsven said. “We would love to give more scholarships because there are a lot of really qualified and motivated students who are looking for a good education.”

There is still a great amount of work to be done until the law is fully implemented, and there are still a lot of unknowns about how it will play out. “It’s a very new law,” Fisher said. “It’s just been adopted. It’s likely to be challenged in the courts. But my feeling about it is that anything that expands access to Parker is a great thing.”

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Invest in Kids