What is an Education Scholarship Account

Education Scholarship Accounts help families save money on tutoring, homeschooling, or other educational resources with government scholarship funds.

What is an Education Scholarship Account? Education Scholarship Accounts (also called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs) are awarded by some U.S. states to families who withdraw from public or charter schools for another schooling option.

Families approved for ESAs are provided with government funding to help cover the cost of their children’s education.

ESA funds can often be spent on virtual learning, homeschool, private school, tutoring, community college, higher education, and additional educational resources or materials.

ESAs reduce financial barriers to schooling for families who need alternative resources to public school. More than $650M in funding is awarded to individual families each year

Parents usually access these funds via an online platform that makes it easy to put their scholarship dollars toward their chosen schooling needs. Homeschooling families, in particular, may choose to use their education scholarship account funds for:

And other materials to support their kids’ academic growth. Funds may often also be used to support gifted children who need additional challenges to thrive in school or kids who need personalized tutoring or emotional support.

The ability to offset the cost of a DIY schooling journey with state funds ensures parents who homeschool have access to similar resources as a family enrolled in public school.

It also makes it possible for families who’ve held back from diving into alternative schooling because of limited budgets, full-time career commitments, or other financial barriers to take the plunge with confidence that they can afford the support they need. 

What states have Education Scholarship Accounts?

12 U.S. states currently offer Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) or similar scholarship funds: ArizonaFloridaGeorgiaIndianaMississippiMissouriNew HampshireNorth CarolinaOhioTennesseeTexas, and West Virginia.

Each state has different guidelines for program eligibility, scholarship amounts, and how families can spend ESA funds. Residents of participating states should visit their state’s ESA website to learn more about how to apply and qualify for an education scholarship account.

Am I eligible for an Education Scholarship Account?

State guidelines will determine whether your child is eligible for an Education Scholarship Account.  Each state has its own set of qualifications for ESA funds, but common factors for eligibility include:

  • Children with special needs

  • Children with an IEP (individualized education program)

  • Children with a CSEP (choice special education plan)

  • Children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch

  • Children of active-duty or deceased members of the military

  • Children of parents with vision or hearing impairments

  • Children who have previously received an ESA

To find out if your child qualifies for an Education Scholarship Account to support their schooling, review your state’s program and requirements:

How to use an Education Scholarship Account

Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) are usually accessed through an online platform, such as ClassWallet. Each state determines scholarship amounts and qualifications for a resource to be considered eligible for ESA spending.

Families can either submit learning opportunities for approval by their state or spend funds on pre-approved resources directly through the state’s chosen scholarship platform. 

The easiest way to use an Education Scholarship Account is to choose from pre-approved resources listed on the state’s digital wallet platform.

These resources may be homeschooling supplements, learning materials or curricula, live or virtual academic courses, and more.

Some learning platforms, like Outschool, ask their online teachers to provide the types of credentials that many ESA programs require in advance — meaning parents don’t need to vet each class or teacher themselves.

They can usually purchase a spot in a virtual class with just a couple of clicks and have the money come directly out of their education scholarship account (instead of waiting to be reimbursed).

Alternatively, if families discover a resource or course that is not pre-approved by their state, their ESA program should provide instructions for submitting the resource for approval.

This often means contacting the person or organization who developed the course, gathering required credentials or supporting documentation, and sending it to the state for verification.

Using Education Scholarship Accounts for online learning

Many virtual classes for kids and teens are eligible for ESA spending, as long as they meet state requirements for teacher credentials or certifications. Growing options for class topics, formats, and schedules mean families on all kinds of schooling journeys are embracing the opportunity to customize their learning with the help of expert online educators.

Outschool believes every kid should have the opportunity to build their future with a high-quality education.

As we work to break down barriers to schooling, we encourage parents in select states to use ESA funds to pay for classes. We take care of gathering credentials from our teachers, so parents don’t have to; it’s just one way we work to set 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.

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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