Innovative education savings accounts are the next generation of school choice.
As of Spring 2016, five states have enacted education savings account programs. E3 is working to educate citizens on the benefits of legislation to create ESAs in New Jersey modeled after the first near-universal education savings account program in the nation enacted by Nevada in 2015.
ESAs allow parents to receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. That means parents are no longer limited to a choice among schools; they can fully customize their children’s education. The state gives parents restricted-use “debit cards” loaded with a portion of their children’s share of per pupil funds. They can then direct those funds to pay for pre-approved educational services and providers, including private school tuition, textbooks, curricula, online learning, individual public school classes, and Advanced Placement courses. Parents can even roll over unused funds from year to year and even into a college savings account.
From Education Savings Accounts, EdChoice
- The eligible family receives funds with allotted funds for their child’s education. Eligibility is determined by the state.
- The family uses the funds for approved educational expenses and submits the receipts to the approved administrative agent for quarterly audits. The funds can be used only with vendors approved by the state. Those may include, but are not limited to, accredited and licensed therapists, tutors, and approved private schools. (In some states, parents access the accounts through reimbursement to an approved administrative agent or an online portal, instead of a debit card.)
- Families may roll over funds quarterly, and any unused funds at the end of the year can be used the following year. (Parents may place unused funds into a college savings account upon their child’s high school graduation to use toward college tuition for a four-year time block.)