Education Scholarship Accounts allow parents to withdraw their child from a public school and receive a deposit of their child’s state education dollars into a government authorized savings account for education related expenses.
Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA) are an innovative program that allows for customization in education. The funds that parents receive can be used on a variety of educational options, including private school tuition and fees, textbooks, and tutoring. These accounts are restricted for any use other than for educational expenses. ESAs create a personal approach to education where the ultimate goal is meeting the child’s unique needs and maximizing their learning potential.
- With ESAs, families- not school officials- determine how education funds are spent for their child’s education. This encourages parents to shop around for the most appropriate education setting at the most affordable cost.
- ESAs allow parents to customize their child’s education. Parents can use ESA funds to provide a number of educational services including:
- Tuition and fees at an eligible private school
- Specialized services such as occupational, behavioral, physical, and speech-language therapies
- Licensed or accredited tutoring
- Instructional materials and curriculum
- Virtual programs or online courses
- Exam fees
- Contract services from a public school or district, including individual classes
- ESAs balance flexibility for parents with strict accountability of tax dollars. ESA funds are restricted to eligible expenses with proper government oversight. View the numerous accountability measures in Mississippi’s ESA program here.
- In 2015, Mississippi became the 3rd state in the nation to create an ESA program with the passage of the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act. Five states now have ESAs programs.
- Nevada has the most expansive ESA program in the country, eligible to nearly every student in the state.
- A survey of participants in the Arizona ESA program in 2013 showed that 100 percent of parents are at least somewhat satisfied with the program, 71 percent are very satisfied, and zero respondents had neutral or negative opinions.
ESAs vs. VOUCHERS:
The media often uses the term ESA and voucher interchangeably and while there are some commonalities between the two programs, there are two significant differences:
- Vouchers direct money from the state directly to a private school. ESAs direct money from the state to parents.
- With vouchers, state funds go toward tuition only. ESAs allow for a fully customized education. Funds can be used on tuition, tutoring, therapy, and other important educational services.