What is the Iowa Lutheran School Tuition Organization (ILSTO)?

During the 2006 Iowa Legislative Session a new program to benefit Iowa non-public accredited school families was put in place. It was designed to help parents who desire a non-public education for their children but are unable to afford it. The state gives tax credits to donors up to a certain amount. In turn, the STOs give this money to qualifying families who apply for tuition assistance.

In January 2007, state accredited Lutheran Schools came together to form the Iowa Lutheran School Tuition Organization (ILSTO). During the past school year, the ILSTO’s goal was to raise $346,000 for this tuition organization. The ILSTO had $224,928 in tuition tax credits to distribute. They raised $155,031, about half the amount designated. For the 2008 tax year, the ILSTO had $311,812 in tax credits to distribute to donors. The allocation was to raise $479,865.

How does ILSTO benefit Iowa District West Lutheran schools and donors?

First, those who donate to the ILSTO will receive a 65% state tax credit. For example, a donation of $1,000 will generate a voucher for $650 state tax credit. In addition, there may also be a Federal income tax charitable contribution deduction. Consult a tax advisor to see how this program can benefit you.

A donor is able to designate which Iowa Lutheran School they would like their donation to benefit. Wouldn’t it be great to help a student attend an IDW Lutheran School instead of paying taxes?

Second, families whose income is up to four times the national poverty rate are eligible for tuition assistance from this program. This means that the ILSTO would be able to more fully fund students attending IDW Lutheran Schools, increase enrollment, provide ministry with the community, and share the Gospel with more children and their families. Now that’s something to think about.

The ILSTO’s goal is to fully fund the Lutheran STO this year, and they are asking each member of IDW to consider a donation. Not only will this help students attend Iowa West Lutheran schools, it will also benefit the donor through a tax credit. Please share this information with others. Any person who pays Iowa income tax may be eligible for the tuition tax credit.

Parents with students attending one of our Iowa state accredited Lutheran schools can apply for scholarship assistance. For more information, spend some time at iowalutheransto.org or contact Dewey Torkelson at 712-260-2991.

To receive tax credit for the 2020 tax year, donations must be made by December 31, 2020. Remember, they only have a designed amount in tax credits to give out. Once that is gone, there can be no more tax credits given. So donate early—you don’t want to be left out!

The ILSTO is now able to accept non-cash donations such as stock.

Applicant Information

Eligibility Criteria and Application for ILSTO at ZSJ

  1. Child(ren) must be an Iowa resident(s).
  2. Family income (defined as the amount shown on Line 7 of the Federal Tax Form 1040) can be no more than 400% of the poverty level. To determine whether you qualify, click on the Eligibility tab on the ILSTO webpage and consult the table there. If your income qualifies, you should apply for ILSTO funds.
  3. ILSTO funds will be counted toward and coordinated with tuition assistance from ZSJ. Applicants for ZSJ tuition assistance must first apply for ILSTO funds to be eligible for tuition assistance from ZSJ.
  4. If you have questions, feel free to email deweytorkelson@gmail.com
  5. The deadline dates for applying for assistance may also be found on the ILSTO website under the FAQ tab.