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Northwest Ohio Scrip Association, Professional Fundraiser, Toledo, OH

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Printable FAQ

What is scrip?

Scrip is a term, having a military origin, meaning "substitute money". When a family purchases scrip, they are purchasing negotiable gift certificates that are used just like cash. National and local merchants issue the scrip (identical in form to their gift certificates) where many families already shop. These merchants want to support not for profit organizations and, in return, ask you to support them by pre-paying for these gift certificates which allow you to shop at their stores. Families can use these gift certificates to purchase everyday expenses like food, gas, clothing and other essentials. With every purchase they earn tuition assistance. This tuition assistance is “Free Money” -- money for family spending, which is going to be spent anyway, just done a little differently.

How does each purchase earn tuition assistance?

The MPSPA buys the gift certificates at a discount (which varies by merchant) then it sells them to its member families at full price. After a small $40 fee which covers some of the program expenses is deducted from your earnings the difference is then applied to the purchasing family's tuition assistance account.

Spent per Week on Groceries and Gas Gift Cards Earning 2% Gift Cards Earning 3% Gift Cards Earning 4%
$200.00 a week $208.00 $312.00 $416.00
$300.00 a week $312.00 $468.00 $624.00
$400.00 a week $416.00 $624.00 $832.00

How does it work?

Simple, on or before any given Wednesday (unless it is an Holiday weekend) by 12 NOON, a member family submits an order, at the Scrip Drop-Off Center (in either the indoor drop-off box or the outdoor black MPSPA drop-off box) at our location at the Corner of Central & Cheltenham at 2828 West Central Avenue, Basement, Toledo, Ohio, for the scrip they want (see sample order form on page 7).  That family will have filled out the ACH paperwork and that ACH will be processed the same day (Wednesday as that family's order).  The order is processed and the ACH is processed or the check is cashed Thursday morning. The order is then ready for pickup, in the family’s own pick-up box at the Jeff Traudt’s Insurance Building, the following Friday by noon (most of the time by Thursday at 2 p.m.). Pick-up is available Monday to Friday - 9:00 am. to 5:00 p.m. and not available on weekends and holidays

What are the fees and how much do I have to pay to start?

The fees deducted from your tuition assistance are a flat $40 from the gross amount of tuition assistance for MPSPA costs. This is taken from the first $40 of tuition assistance earned. THERE ARE NO PREPAID FEES. If a family does not earn $40 in tuition assistance then the remainder of the $40f fee is waived. After the deduction of the $40 fee the remainder is issued in the form of a check at the end of each fiscal year, April 30th  (explained below).  The percentages on the order form are EXACTLY the amounts of tuition assistance being generated by the member family. The MPSPA fee structure has been designed to, with economy in mind, cover the costs of the extensive hours of data entry and compilation, e-mailing, communication to member families, sorting, shipping, office supplies, copies, rent, maintenance of the physical site, anticipated website, internet access, equipment maintenance, computer hardware/software maintenance and upgrade as well as other ordinary costs of doing business. If a family spends more than $15,000 on scrip in a fiscal year $20 of fee will be returned if the family spends $25,000 all $40 of the fee will be returned.

How does a member family get its tuition assistance?

Each April the MPSPA will distribute a tuition assistance designation sheet asking each family to designate the school or schools to which the family will distribute the tuition assistance. Then at the end of each fiscal year (April 30th) a check, jointly payable to the designated parochial school and the member family, will be drawn and delivered to the member family to be used as partial or full payment of their child’s parochial school tuition.

Does the family need to have school aged (or any) children to participate?

Absolutely not, younger families can start generating tuition assistance immediately and “roll over” their tuition assistance each year (without interest) until they need it to pay tuition. The tuition assistance designation sheet will have, as one of its choices, an option to “roll over” the tuition assistance to the following year. Also, grandparents, relatives or any family can start an account with the MPSPA, generate tuition assistance and then designate any family and parochial school to receive the tuition assistance that they have generated.

Why do merchants participate in the scrip program?

A combination of goodwill, competition, profit margin, no credit card transaction fees, time value of money and risk of loss motivates these merchants These merchants exchange that 2-18% they are sacrificing in profits for the goodwill and patronage given them by the member families. However, each merchant does a financial equation. That is, most likely their profit margin can absorb the amount they are donating to the member families. Further, they are getting their cash up front and thus getting “time value” on their money while they most likely will not have to honor the gift certificates until months after they are purchased. Further, there is no 3-5% credit card fee on gift certificate purchases so the merchant saves that cost. Also, they are getting a “goodwill” leg up on the competition that is not participating in the scrip program. Further, most likely a patron will spend more than the card or certificate (“upspending”) generating additional profits for the merchant. Finally, the risk of loss has been transferred to the consumer or bearer of the gift certificate. If the certificate or card is lost the merchant still keeps the money it was paid (“gift card breakage” or “benefit of loss”). So in reality a participating merchant isn’t giving up much. However, it is much more than a merchant who doesn’t participate and it is a great deal for the member families.

We use our credit card for cash back or miles, how is scrip a better deal?

This one is easy. Scrip, by far, is a better value for your spending dollar than Discover’s cash back bonus or any airline credit card you can use. Take for instance the 1% cash back bonus of Discover, AMEX or any of the multiple Chase or Capital One Visas. If a member family spends $20,000.00 annually in Discover card purchases on its anniversary date the family will get a check for $200. If, however, that family made those same purchases (to the extent it can) with scrip that family will have made an average of 5% (that is after deduction of the management fee) and will have generated $1000.00 in tuition assistance. As to any airline card it takes at least 25,000 miles, (or $25,000 charged dollars) to get even one contiguous United States round-trip ticket (during off-peak travel season). That same $25,000.00 in expenditures translates into $1250.00 in tuition assistance. That is more than enough to purchase several round-trip airline tickets. So a member family’s best policy is to use scrip for every purchase possible and their favorite incentive generating credit card for purchases where they can’t use scrip

Why doesn’t my parochial school sell scrip?

Some schools do and keep a healthy portion of the tuition assistance generated for the school general fund. Interestingly, when the school “automatically” keeps a portion of the funds that contribution loses its “tax deductibility” to the family making the contribution (since it is no longer “voluntary”). Some schools and churches keep up to 50% of the family’s earnings. Check with your school as to availability and terms of their scrip program. As to the schools that don’t, the MPSPA has learned that most schools’ concerns range from the fear that their families won’t participate to the apprehension that an already over-burdened school staff will not be able to handle the additional work a scrip program brings. One school even went so far as to state that “Our families won’t take out as many loans from local parochial credit unions or participate in school provided financing.  THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT OF A SCRIP PROGRAM! The MPSPA has found these attitudes are the common threads in the administrative staffs and parish leadership of non-scrip program schools. Schools and Parishes should do whatever they can to alleviate the financial burden on their over taxed and over “tuition-ed” families. As to the “extra work” or “lack of parent participation, these are unfounded fears. Clearly, successfully managing a scrip program requires significant volunteer time and effort.  The “i” in scrip stands for incentive. The parents’ participation is guaranteed because of the amount of the incentive.  As to the MPSPA, because the MPSPA acts outside of the school infrastructure, there is absolutely no burden on school or administrative staffs. Finally, the MPSPA allows its member families to keep all their earnings allowing them to use all of it for tuition and choose for themselves the now tax deductible amount to give to your school or parish. The MPSPA was founded by a parochial school parent with a lot of kids and is run for parochial school parents.

Which is a better deal, my school’s scrip program or the MPSPA?

Make sure to be familiar with the terms of your school’s scrip program. Some schools take a healthy share (up to half) of your tuition assistance accumulated. As usual a family’s best strategy is to find out as much information as it can and ask tough questions of those in charge (MPSPA personnel included). Other things to consider are whether the school will allow the family to rollover unused tuition assistance to the next year and whether the family can use the tuition assistance at local parochial high schools.

Can I sell the scrip I buy to others?

Absolutely. Member families are encouraged to sell scrip to whomever they can. Relatives, friends and coworkers can all help the member family generate tuition assistance by purchasing scrip. We just ask for one check per order per week. Have your customers pay you for the scrip that you order for them any particular week.

What do we do when we have a bad gift card?

When you have a bad card you must first perform a card balance inquiry.

If your gift card states it has a “zero balance” or “not activated”, please follow these steps:

1. Call the 1-800 # on the back of the card.

2. After you have listened to the balance, if it states the card is $0, stay on the line to speak to a customer service  representative.

3. Ask the representative for a history of the card. They can tell you the activation date and when or where (if) it was used.

Only after you have followed these steps and are still experiencing a problem with the card, please e-mail NOSA with the serial number of the card.

Can I use scrip to pay store charge card balances?

Some merchants (The Anderson’s & Kohl’s) do allow families to do this under the following conditions: That the family make its payment at the store, not by mail; and, if the entire balance is not paid the family is still required to send in (the mail) the minimum monthly payment Other merchants absolutely forbid payments in this manner. Make sure you check with your merchant before making a large purchase on a store card anticipating generating a large amount of tuition assistance paying off the store charge with scrip. One way to circumvent a store’s “no scrip on store charges” policy is to speak with the store manager before making a large purchase. Tell her that you have enough in gift certificates to make this purchase but you don’t have them with you. Ask if you can purchase the large item with a credit card and come back a week later with the gift certificates, get your credit card credited and pay with the gift certificates. Chances are the store manager will agree because she wants a sale and a credit card sale costs them 3-5% on each sale and gift certificates do not (they may not realize you get tuition assistance). Again the best policy is always ask...the worst they can say is no.

How can I find out more?

Review the rules link on the right, click on the register link and register, click on order scrip and download the ACH paperwork and scrip order forms.   Also, you can E-mail the MPSPA at  Unlike many organizations, the MPSPA is designed to reward a member family directly proportional to their participation. Finally, any family referred by a member family is welcome to join and start earning tuition assistance for their family’s parochial school education.

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