Friday, May 4th is the deadline for parents of students with special needs to apply for an education savings account for next school year.
These accounts give parents their children’s share of school funds to use on textbooks, virtual school classes, private school tuition, or even college savings plans. Approximately 150 families participated this year.
The only program of its kind in the U.S., education savings accounts allow parents to customize their child’s education. Parents can select a variety of educational services for their child in order to create a specialized learning experience that will challenge their child and prepare them for life in the real world.
Here are a few commonly asked questions and answers about education savings accounts.
- What is an education savings account (or “Empowerment Scholarship Account”)? Education savings accounts are private accounts under parents’ control. Parents of students with special needs complete an application with the Arizona Department of Education and receive their share of school funds. Families can use the funds for many educational expenses, including online courses, textbooks, and private school tuition. A complete list of approved expenses is available here.
- Who is eligible? All students with an IEP or 504 plan who attended a public school for the first 100 days of this school year are eligible to apply. Students who received a scholarship from a school tuition organization (STO) under “Lexie’s Law” are also eligible. Families that used a savings account this school year will receive a renewal contract from the Arizona Department of Education (more information for participating families is available from the Department of Education here).
- How do you apply? Applications are available on the Arizona Department of Education’s Web site. Friday, May 4 is the deadline for next school year.
- Where can I learn more? To learn more, visit the Goldwater Institute’s “Education Savings Accounts: Questions and Answers” or the Arizona Department of Education’s information page.
These savings accounts are changing the lives of children with special needs. If you know a family who would qualify for an account, I hope you’ll share this information and encourage them to apply today.
Arizona Department of Education: Empowerment Scholarship Accounts
Arizona Department of Education: ESA Application Guidelines
Goldwater Institute: Education Savings Accounts: Questions and Answers
Goldwater Institute: Education Savings Accounts Extend Hope, Opportunities