What is the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account, and how can you spend the funds?

How Empowerment Scholarship Accounts help Arizona families save money on homeschool, tutoring, and other educational resources with state scholarship funds.

If you're interested in the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account but aren't sure how it works or how to get started, you've come to the right place. This article covers a quick overview of what the Arizona ESA is, who is eligible, and how you can use the funds. For the complete guide, check our free Arizona Empowerment Scholarship eBook.

What is the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account?

What are Arizona Empowerment Savings Accounts (ESAs)? ESAs are scholarships awarded to students who withdraw from Arizona public or charter schools for other schooling options. These government-funded scholarships may pay for homeschooling, educational therapies, tutoring, private school, virtual learning, and additional educational resources or materials. 

Arizona’s ESA program helps parents offset the cost of finding the right schooling fit for their family outside of public school. Arizona was the first ESA in the nation and remains one of the most extensive ESA programs, with wide ranging eligibility for kids ages 3 and up.

How to find Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

Families who would like to apply for an Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account should visit the Arizona Department of Education website for details on the application process. To be considered for ESA funding, students must be eligible for public school enrollment in Arizona and have withdrawn from said public or charter school when the ESA contract is signed.

While any Arizona K-12 student may apply for an ESA under the universal expansion, the following groups may receive additional funding based on their category:

  • Preschool or K-12 students with special needs

  • Students with an IEP, MET, or 504

  • Students with a military parent, either on active duty or killed in the line of duty

  • Students with a parent who is legally blind, deaf, or hard of hearing

  • Students who are currently attending a D or F-rated public school

  • Students who reside within a Native American Reservation

  • Students who are wards of the court

  • Students who have a sibling who is/was an ESA recipient

  • Students who have previously received an ESA

How much is an Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA)?

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts provide 90% of Arizona’s per-student base funding. The Arizona Department of Education has shared that ESA students in grades 1-12 may expect to receive approximately $7,000 in 2022-2023, and kindergarten students may expect approximately $4,000. 

The amounts of individual scholarship awards will vary based on several factors, and students with special needs will often receive additional funds beyond the base amounts above.

Taking into account ESAs awarded to students with special needs, the average Arizona ESA amount in 2021-2022 was approximately $15,000.

Can Arizona ESA funds be used for homeschooling?

Arizona ESA funds can be used for home education; however, ESA students do not file homeschool affidavits and are not considered “homeschool” students by state law. Many students who receive ESA funds are homeschooled, receive private tutoring or therapy, or attend a private school program.

Families who homeschool may use their Arizona ESA funds to finance:

And other materials to customize their children’s education. Parents can also use their ESA to fund therapeutic interventions and emotional support for kids with unique needs, provide learning experiences for gifted children, or enroll in private school.

Homeschooling families with ESAs can also join online community groups where they can share ideas and ask questions about choosing the right resources for their kids.

How to use Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

Families with Empowerment Scholarship Accounts make purchases with their ESA funds using an online payment platform called ClassWallet. These families should log in to ClassWallet directly from the Arizona ESA online portal.

There are 4 ways to use ESA funds on ClassWallet:

1. Shop the marketplace

Shop the marketplace for pre-approved courses, products, supplies, and more. After approval by the Arizona ESA program, purchases will automatically be deducted directly from the student’s ESA account. Outschool is auto-approved by the AZ ESA Program, which means you can enroll in a class that starts today!

2. Pay service providers

Pay for services like tutors, private schools, and paraprofessionals with the Pay Vendor option. Parents may upload invoices from pre-approved vendors, then send a payment using their ESA account.

3. Request reimbursement

Request reimbursement for materials, tuition, or courses purchased using personal funds that do not appear on the pre-approved vendor list. Shopping the marketplace or using the Pay Vendor feature of ClassWallet is the easiest way to spend ESA funds without having to wait for reimbursement. 

Using Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts for online learning

Arizona ESA funds may be used for virtual classes for kids and teens, and families can choose from a variety of class formats, schedules, and styles on the ClassWallet platform.

Learning platforms like Outschool ask teachers to share credentials and complete background checks to ensure class quality — meaning parents don’t need to vet each class or teacher themselves.

Families participating in any schooling method can shop for these learning opportunities directly through the ClassWallet and enroll using their ESA in just a few clicks.

How to purchase pre-approved online classes in ClassWallet

Step 1 

Families log into their ClassWallet account and head to the Marketplace to search for pre-approved resources (Option 1 above).

Step 2

Let’s say this family is specifically interested in an Outschool online class for their child. They can select Outschool from the Marketplace menu, and from there, will be prompted to create an Outschool account.

Step 3

The family shops for the class they’d like to enroll in and completes their purchase through the ClassWallet platform, using their ESA funds.

Families can follow a similar process for other online learning platforms approved for ESA spending and featured in the ClassWallet marketplace.

Outschool believes every Arizona student should have access to high-quality education, regardless of how they choose to learn. As we work to break down barriers to schooling, we encourage parents to use Arizona ESA funds to pay for pre-approved Outschool classes on ClassWallet

We’ve done all the work to vet our teachers’ credentials and experience, so parents don’t have to; it’s just one way Outschool is setting learning free.

Explore 140,000+ classes taught by passionate educators who encourage kids to lead their learning with options for every budget, schedule, and schooling style.

Want more Arizona ESA tips and tricks for maximizing your account? Check out our (free) eBook.

Learn more about state educational grant programs

Kate Rhodes Kate is a Content Specialist at Outschool. She's skilled at organizing complex information into clear communication that grabs attention and builds trust with diverse audiences.

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