By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
On May 31 the State of Iowa will begin accepting Students First Education Savings Account (ESA) applications for the 2023-24 school year. Parents who choose to send their children to an accredited private school in Iowa will receive $7,598 per student through an ESA allocated by the state for use of qualified tuition, fees and other expenses as Iowa law permits. Students must reside in Iowa and be enrolled full time to qualify.
The ESA program is open to the following groups for the 2023-24 school year:
- Incoming kindergarten students.
- Students enrolled in a public school during the 2022-23 school year.
- Students enrolled in an accredited nonpublic school with a household income at or below 300% of the 2023 federal poverty guidelines ($90,000 for a family of four).
The application form is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website at https://tinyurl.com/iowaesa. The website includes a list of frequently asked questions and resources for parents. An informational video about the application process is available on Youtube: https://youtu.be/cviDGiA_ykg.
Parents must input their legal name, address and Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, according to the education department. An automated process will verify residency, income eligibility and whether the student attended a nonpublic school last year. Families can include multiple children in the application.
Applications are due June 30 for the 2023-24 school year. If the automatic review process verifies the application, the applicant should receive a response within 30 minutes of completion. If additional documentation or manual review is necessary, processing will take more time.
Funds will be available for use in the ESA July 15 or 30 days after the application is verified and approved, whichever date is later. Half of the funds ($3,817.50) will be available for use in the fall 2023 semester and the remaining half will be available for use in the spring 2024 semester. The state has signed a contract with Odyssey to manage ESA program administration, including applications, financial transactions, compliance, fraud prevention and customer service.
The Students First Act, introduced by Governor Kim Reynolds and signed into law Jan. 24, established the framework and funding for education savings accounts.
Applications are valid for one year; a family must apply annually to remain eligible. The income requirement will be relaxed for the 2024-25 school year to 400% of federal poverty guidelines and eliminated for the 2025-26 school year.