As a leader in the school choice movement for over 20 years, ACE Scholarships is confident we can lead the successful implementation of the ESA programs. ACE Scholarships will lead with our passion, history of success and steadfast commitment to families. This success is predicated on both experience and professional colleagues who have done this before. With a growing team of 37 dedicated employees and over 23 years of experience, ACE Scholarships brings unmatched experience in supporting lower-income families, specifically scholarships that enable families to choose the school best for them. ACE Scholarships has been a leader in the school choice arena since 2000, with our mission centered on ensuring that families have the power to choose the best educational fit for their children. With over 66,000 scholarships awarded and $170 million in support, we have made a significant impact on educational access across 12 states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming.
As of March 2023, 11 states have ESA programs: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. If you are an administrator in one of these states looking for an experienced contractor for your ESA program, lets get in touch.Each state has different eligibility requirements – from students with disabilities to students at struggling schools. Arizona is the first state to offer ESAs to all students; Iowa, Arkansas, Florida, and Utah are set to follow suit.
While not necessary, most states have found that seasoned program managers have added a benefit to their states as veterans in the field of scholarshipping, vendor relationship, and community trust. It is beneficial for the government to work with a third party organization that can collaborate with families, schools, vendors and the government so the program can run seamlessly.
ACE Scholarships is led by the belief that every child deserves an equal chance at a quality education. Opportunity to choose a school that matches each student is essential for student success. ESAs are a part of helping students afford the education and supports they need to reach their dreams. At ACE, we have a policy team that is up to date on current trends, laws, and policy that is moving the needle to extended government support of school choice. We are happy to share any and all resources we have to help you navigate your way to creating an ESA program in your state.
It depends on the state. For example, in the state of Utah, these are the qualifications for schools:
A private school with 150 or more enrolled students that has a contract with an independent licensed certified public accountant to conduct an agreed upon procedure engagement as the state board adopts, or obtain an audit and report. Is in compliance with the antidiscrimination provisions of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000d.
A private school with fewer than 150 enrolled students that has provided a federal employer ID number, as well as other information required by the program manager. Is in compliance with the antidiscrimination provisions of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000d.
A LEA (Local Education Agency) that has provided a federal employer identification number, the LEA’s address and contact information, a description of each program or service the LEA proposes to offer to scholarship students, and any other information as required by the program manager. Is in compliance with the antidiscrimination provisions of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000d.
Platforms like ClassWallet help manage ESA funds transparently, giving detailed, real time reporting that can be accessed at any time by the state government. Reports are given to an appointed program manager in the government.
ESA programs come in different shapes and sizes, but generally they are Education Savings Accounts given out by the government so families can pay tuition for private schools, homeschooling supplies, curriculum materials, and/or educational therapy services. As of March 2023, 11 states have ESA programs: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.
There are different qualifications for an ESA program depending on the state that you are residing in. For example, in Utah, 5,000 ESAs of up to $8,000 will be given out to eligible students starting in the 2024-2025 school year. An eligible student:
Is eligible to participate in public school.
Is in kindergarten or grades 1 through 12.
Is a resident of the state of Utah.
Did not receive a scholarship under The Carson Smith Scholarship Program or The Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program
Completes, to maintain eligibility, the portfolio application requirement.
OR, is a “Home-based scholarship student” which is a student who:
Is eligible to participate in public school, in kindergarten or grades 1 through 12, is excused from enrollment in an LEA in accordance with Section 53G-6-204 to attend a home school and receives a benefit of scholarship funds.
Because there will be more applications than there are ESAs to give out, there will be a tiered income preference for applicants:
An Eligible Student who did not use a scholarship amount in the previous year and has a family income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
An Eligible Student who is a sibling of an eligible student who uses a scholarship account at the time the sibling applies for a scholarship account.
An Eligible Student who used a scholarship account in the school year immediately preceding the school year for which the sibling is applying for a scholarship account.
An Eligible Student who did not use a scholarship account in the previous year and has a family income between 200% and 555% of the federal poverty level.
There are different qualifications for an ESA program depending on the state that you are residing in. For example, in Utah, 5,000 ESAs of up to $8,000 will be given out to eligible students starting in the 2024-2025 school year.
Depends on what state you are in. In the state of Utah, allowable scholarship expenses include:
Tuition and fees of a qualifying provider.
Fees and instructional materials at a technical college.
Fees for after-school or summer education programs.
Textbooks, curricula, or other instructional materials, including any supplemental materials or associated online instruction that a curriculum or a Qualifying Provider recommends.
Educational software and applications.
Supplies or other equipment related to a scholarship student’s educational needs.
Computer hardware or other technological devices that are intended primarily for a scholarship student’s educational needs.
Fees for the following examinations, or for a preparation course for the following examinations, that the program manager approves:
A national norm-referenced or standardized assessment described in Utah Code 53F-6-410, an advanced placement examination, or another similar assessment.
A state-recognized industry certification examination.
An examination related to college or university admission.
Educational services for students with disabilities from a licensed or accredited practitioner or provider, including occupational, behavioral, physical, audiology, or speech-language therapies.
Contracted services that the program manager approves and that an LEA provides, including individual classes, after-school tutoring services, transportation, or fees or costs associated with participation in extracurricular activities.
Ride fees or fares for a fee-for-service transportation provider to transport the scholarship student to and from a Qualifying Provider, not to exceed $750 in a given school year.
Expenses related to extracurricular activities, field trips, educational supplements, and other educational experiences.
Any other expense for a good or service that a parent or scholarship student incurs in the education of the scholarship student.
Anything the program manager approves as an ESA expense.
For example, in the state of Utah, right now there are up to 5,000 allotted ESAs of up to $8,000 each for the 2024-2025 school year. If enrollment exceeds available program funding, accounts shall be awarded by the program manager in the following order: students who used an account in the previous school year; students with a family income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level (~$60,000 for a family of four in 2023–24), students with a sibling who uses an ESA at the time of application or in the immediately preceding school year, to students with a family income between 200% and 555% of the federal poverty level (~$166,500 for a family of four in 2023–24).