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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ESA can pay for private school tuition

Scholarship Empowerment Accounts ESA

Arizona State Capitol   Photo by Dave Newman/Flickr.com

Last January, I wrote an article titled “Education, schools and money” about the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) that provide state financial assistance to pay for private school tuition, expenses and tutoring. ESAs also fund some home school expenses and programs at public schools.

The Arizona Department of Education has FAQs and a brochure that explains what ESAs are.

Eligibility is limited to the following:

  • Children who have attended an Arizona public school full time for the first 100 days of the school year
  • Special needs students
  • Children of active duty military parent(s)
  • Children in foster care or adopted from foster care
  • Children who attended a public school that receives a letter grade of D of F or are eligible for Kindergarten and reside in the failing school’s boundary

If House Bill 2291 passes, it will greatly expand the number of eligible students and eventually remove the cap on new enrollees in the program. Currently, a maximum of 5,480 students can enroll in an ESA each year. An Arizona Capitol Times article explains current House positions on the issue at the state Capitol.

How much a student receives depends on a variety of factors listed in the approximate funding level chart for 2014-15 ESAs. The average base amount of funding is $2,700-$3,100 for kindergartners and $4,600-$5,400 for students in grades 1-12.

There are several determining factors for funding. According to the funding chart, a “student with multiple disabilities and severe sensory impairments” can receive $26,293. Students with “developmental delays, emotional disabilities, mild intellectual disability, specific learning disability, speech/language impairment and other health impairments” may receive an additional $10 to the average base funding.

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Daniel Friedman

Daniel Friedman is a staff writer and photographer

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