Flex Tuition, The STO Requirement, Raising your Tuition


The IDEA School strongly values being an inclusive community accessible to all families. We will never turn away a family for lack of funds. In order to ensure equity, 100% accessibility and inclusion, and greater transparency about the cost to run the school, we utilize “Flexible Tuition” (see table below). 

We anticipate the cost to run the school in 2021-22 will be about $10,740/student. Your tuition will be somewhere between $32/mo and $1,074/mo, depending on your family’s financial circumstances (see table).  

Our bottom line stays the same: For every family, we make it work financially. This is especially true now in these uncertain times. We raise the balance of the funds needed to run the IDEA School through direct charitable donationsindividual tax credit donations recommended to the IDEA School, and corporate low-income tax credit donations. The entire community makes the IDEA School possible.

To qualify for Flex Tuition, you must submit our Financial Aid application (link below) and apply to the school tuition organizations (STOs) listed below as well.  


Flex Tuition Schedule, 2020-21

Special Circumstances: Any family may “move up” 1-4 tiers in Flexible Tuition due to special financial circumstances, depending on the type and severity of the circumstances.

Special Financial Circumstances may include, but are not limited to: high medical costs due to expensive chronic healthcare needs and/or unexpected medical expenses or emergencies; childcare (0-4), eldercare, or other ongoing family care obligations; caring for a loved one with a disability; large student loan debt (as compared to income); costs associated with being a grandparent raising your grandchild; recent loss of job or hours due to COVID-19 (Note: job loss may move your family up more than 4 tiers — we would look at your current financial situation first); recent loss of business due to COVID-19.

Additionally, all students are charged a $20/month Materials and Field Trips Fee, to help cover the costs for all field trips, classroom materials, art supplies, etc. If the $20 monthly materials/field trips fee presents too large a financial hurdle for your family, let us know. We can reduce it as needed.


Please complete the IDEA School financial aid application at this link or below. If applying on paper, please mail completed application, with first 2 pages of your tax return included, to:
IDEA School
c/o Financial Aid
325 W 2nd Street #6
Tucson, AZ 85705

The application requires you to attach/upload a copy of the first 2 pages of your 2020 Federal Tax Return (IRS Form 1040), with all Social Security Numbers blacked out.

You can complete the Financial Aid Application online or download and complete the paper version below. Please print clearly. Call or text Bahne Kuehne with any questions you may have, at (520) 589-4933:




We require that you apply to the School Tuition Organizations (STOs) listed below — unless you are receiving Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) funding through the AZ Dept of Education (see below for more info on ESA funding).  

STOs have millions of dollars to award in need-based scholarships across the state each year, to all families who qualify and apply.  These scholarships contribute greatly to the sustainability of our program by helping us to cover the difference between your Flex Tuition (out-of-pocket) amount and the full cost of $10,740/student to run the school. 

Questions? Call Bahne at (520) 589-4933. 

The School Tuition Organizations (STOs)
to which you MUST apply are:

(1) IBE – Institute for Better Education; and

(2) Arizona Leadership Foundation (ALF)


Click here to apply online or download the paper application.


Click here to apply online or download the paper application.

Note: For ALF, you must submit your application and all supporting documents all at once. Call or email Bahne with any questions, if you need help, or if you need her to sign the Previous STO Award form.  If you do not qualify for an ALF low-income scholarship based on your income (see their application for income thresholds), please simply state this fact on IDEA School’s financial aid application. 

NOTE: Disabled/Displaced (“DD”) Scholarship also available for qualifying students, from both IBE and ALF. Eligible students may receive both the Low-Income Scholarship and the “Disabled/Displaced Scholarship” (for students with documented special needs or who have ever been in the AZ foster care system) from both IBE and Az Leadership Foundation.  See D/D Application materials on both websites.



E.S.A. NOTE: In a given school year, a student may receive either STO aid or ESA aid (Empowerment Scholarship Account), but not both. For more information about ESA scholarships for students with special needs and certain transfer students, click here.


We can help you navigate all this! Call or text Co-Director Bahne Kuehne with any questions at (520) 589-4933 or email her at bahne@explorebuildlearn.org. 


Raising Your Tuition

Tax Credit Donations from individual AZ taxpayers allow you to “raise” your Flex Tuition (out-of-pocket) obligation.  Friends and extended family, neighbors and colleagues — any Arizona taxpayer — may help support your child’s education with an Individual Tax Credit Donation recommended specifically to your child, through IBE (“Recommended Funds”).  Recommended Funds for your child brought in through IBE come right off your Flex Tuition bottom line! 

The taxpayer may contribute under both the “original individual” tax credit and the “plus” tax credit.

  • ALL students are eligible for scholarships from the “original individual” tax credit.
  • Some students are additionally eligible for scholarships from the “plus” tax credit.  Students are eligible for this additional “plus” support if they meet one of the following conditions: (1) they are enrolled in Kindergarten when they first apply; (2) they were enrolled for at least one semester (90 days) of the prior or current school year in an Arizona public school (district or charter) before transferring to the private school; (3) they have a parent/guardian who is active duty military stationed in Arizona; (4) they have received “plus”/ “overflow” aid  from a school tuition organization in a prior school year and have continued to attend a qualifying private school; or (5)  they have received a “Corporate Low-Income Scholarship” from an STO in a prior school year and have continued to attend a qualifying private school. 
  • In the cases of public school transfer or previous STO award, written verification of public school attendance or prior STO award is required.  See the PSAV Form (Public School Attendance Verification) or Previous STO Award Form available from IBE on their website. 

For friends/family who want to help you —
Donation limits:

For the 2020 tax year individual filers may donate up to $1,183 and get it back as a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on their 2020 tax return.  Married couples filing jointly may donate up to $2,365.  These figures include both the “original individual” tax credit donation and the “plus” tax credit donation.  Donors must max out their “Original Individual” tax credit donation before being able to donate for the “Plus” Tax Credit. For more info, see our Tax Credit page.

NOTE: Regardless of the tax year for which the donor claims the Tax Credit, the funds they donate through IBE that are recommended for your child (minus IBE’s 8% admin fee) will be available to help pay your tuition bills in current and future school years. In other words, any funds not used/needed for your current Flex Tuition obligation automatically stay at IBE in your child’s name for future school years — accessible for tuition at qualifying schools all the way through 12th grade.

Donating to a student and to IDEA School:

Arizona Tax Credit donors may recommend that part of their donation go to a particular student at IDEA School, and part go to the IDEA School itself to fund low-income scholarships for all students in need.

If your child is not eligible for a “Plus” funding (see above), please encourage your donors to recommend your child for their “Original” Tax Credit donation and the IDEA School for their “Plus” Tax Credit donation

Call Bahne Kuehne if you need help or have any questions at all. She’d be happy to help you!



Per state law, a taxpayer may not support his/her/their own dependent with a tax credit donation. Additionally, a taxpayer may not “swap” tax credit donations with another taxpayer in order to benefit either taxpayer’s own dependent.


Policy of Non-Discrimination

The IDEA School strongly values diversity and inclusion in our student body, staff, and Board of Directors and aims, through our composition, values and practices, to reflect the diversity of the Tucson community.

The IDEA School admits students of any race, color, national original, ethnic origin, socio-economic status, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status and physical ability to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national original, ethnic origin, socio-economic status, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status or physical ability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship/financial aid policies and programs, or athletic and other school-administered programs.