(The Center Square) – Iowa opened applications for the education savings accounts program Wednesday morning.
The accounts allocate state funding for kindergarten through 12th grade Iowa students who meet certain criteria and attend accredited nonpublic schools beginning in the 2023-24 school year, the department said.
All incoming and current public school students who choose to enroll in an accredited nonpublic school for the 2023-2024 school year are eligible for the program, regardless of income. Students who attended an accredited nonpublic school at any time during the 2022-2023 school year are eligible for the 2023-2024 school year if their household income is at or below 300% of the 2023 Federal Poverty Level, based on the 2022 Iowa State Tax Return or other documentation parents present as part of the application.
Gov. Kim Reynolds released a video message Wednesday announcing the opening of what she called “universal school choice” and a milestone for the state’s education system.
“I believe education is the great equalizer, which is why it was so important to remove the boundaries that have existed between public and private schools for too long and to ensure families can send their children to the school of their choice,” Reynolds said. “Today, we’re changing the face of education in Iowa and influencing what it looks like nationwide. I believe that school choice will improve our overall education experience in Iowa. I believe it will create a system of schools, both public and private, that are driven by student-centered missions. Schools where teachers want to teach, parents want to send their children, and students excel and thrive. Schools that offer opportunities for all and shape the future of our state.”
Parents and guardians can access the application from a link on a Department of Education webpage, educateiowa.gov/pk-12/students-first-education-savings-accounts, which will redirect them to the Students First ESA platform.
The application period ends at 11:59 p.m. June 30. Applications are available in English and Spanish. Technical support is available from representatives of Odyssey, the program’s administrator, at 515-368-9564 or [email protected].
The State Board of Education adopted administrative rules regarding participation eligibility, program definitions, application parameters and program accountability. The Iowa Department of Education has posted rules and frequently asked questions. Parents can sign up for notifications regarding information updates.