What Is The Difference Between a PTA and a PTO?

What Is A PTA?
PTA stands for Parent Teacher Association.

The PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in the United States. Today’s PTA is comprised of more than 4 million parents, teachers, grandparents, caregivers, foster parents and other caring adults who share a commitment to improving the education, health, and safety of all children.

  • A local parent group, referred to as a Unit, is formally affiliated with its state’s PTA organization and the National PTA.
  • The number of PTA units has been between 22,000 – 26,000 units respectively.
  • The biggest difference of the PTA is that there is an umbrella organization, in this case the National PTA, which oversees and provides bylaws for the State PTAs and local Unit PTAs.
  • Dues are required for PTA Units.
  • Nonprofit status is typically granted automatically as part of a PTA Unit’s affiliation with National PTA and the payment of annual dues.
  • Insurance is typically offered at lower rates for PTAs.

If someone is part of a PTA, they are required to pay dues to their State PTA and the National PTA and are not a stand-alone parent group.

What Is A PTO?
PTO stands for Parent Teacher Organization.

A PTO is any non-PTA independent parent group that is not affiliated with any national organization that oversees or requires specific bylaws to be followed or dues to be paid.

  • Because PTOs are not required to register themselves like PTA Units, it is estimated that there could be close to 55,000 PTOs nationwide.
  • There is no “National PTO” similar to National PTA and there is no official umbrella organization for PTOs.
  • The decision to charge dues is completely up to the PTO whereas dues are required for PTA units.
  • PTOs are not considered Nonprofit unless approved by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If a PTO does decide to become a registered nonprofit, it must apply directly to the IRS and pay a one-time fee.
  • Insurance is typically offered at higher rates for PTOs.

If someone is part of a PTO, they are part of an independent parent group that is not affiliated with a national organization, they are not regulated by specific bylaws, and they may not be required to pay dues.

Help! I Am Still Unsure Whether I Am Part of a PTA or a PTO.
Please contact R.V. Nuccio & Associates, Inc. at 1-800-567-2685 and a friendly customer service representative will be happy to help you.