Yesterday, North Carolina became the sixth state to enact education savings accounts. State lawmakers included a provision in the budget to offer the accounts to children with special needs, modeled after the nation’s first such program in Arizona and based on Goldwater Institute research.
In 2018-19, North Carolina will reserve $3 million to allow approximately 330 families of children with special needs to use an account to customize their child’s education. With an account, the state deposits a portion of a child’s funds from the state formula into a private bank account that parents use to buy educational products and services. Analysts anticipate each account will be worth approximately $9,000.
North Carolina’s new accounts are the third education savings account victory for families across the country this year. In April, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey expanded Arizona’s accounts so that every public school child will have the opportunity to apply for an account by 2021. More than 3,000 Arizona students are using an account today. Earlier this month, Florida lawmakers expanded the state’s accounts (called Gardiner Scholarships), which are available to children with severe special needs, to include more children with significant diagnoses. Children with visual and hearing impairments, among others, are now eligible, and lawmakers appropriated enough funds for 20,000 scholarships in the 2017-18 school year.
North Carolina children join students in Mississippi and Tennessee, along with eligible families in Arizona and Florida, with access to the accounts (Nevada lawmakers have also enacted the accounts, though legislators have yet to resolve state funding issues). The accounts allow families to pay for online classes, personal tutors, educational therapy, private school tuition, and college expenses, to name a few possible uses across these states. Most savings account laws allow families to save money from year to year, a valuable feature as education costs tend to increase from elementary school to middle school to high school.
For more on education savings accounts, along with parent and student success stories, visit the Goldwater Institute’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/GoldwaterInstitute.