(The Center Square) – Over 18,000 students in Iowa have been approved for education savings accounts, up by over 1,000 since last month, according to the state Department of Education.
Of the 29,025 students who applied for ESAs, 18,627 are approved, the department said. Under 1,000 students’ applications are still in review while parents or guardians provide additional information to determine eligibility, according to a press release from DOE.
In early July, the number of students that received approval for ESAs was 17,481. The application period took place in June.
The ESAs were launched for the first time this year under the Students First Act, which was signed into law in January. It provides eligible kindergarten through 12th-grade students funding if they forgo public school and attend an accredited nonpublic school. The money they receive in the accounts is equivalent to the “per pupil” funds that public schools receive each year.
Per pupil funding in Iowa is $7,635 for the 2023-2024 school year.
Once a student is approved for an ESA, families must separately apply to the accredited private school they wish their child to attend. The ESA account is funded upon acceptance to the school.
Once the account is funded, the student can receive invoices from their school, and parents or guardians can approve the payment. When payments are approved, funds are transferred directly from the ESA to the school to pay tuition and fees, the press release said.
If a student has been approved for an ESA but does not attend an accredited nonpublic school by Sept. 30, the ESA account is closed for the year, and the money goes back to the state’s general fund.
Students have received approval for ESAs in 96 out of the state’s 99 counties. The only counties with no approved applications so far are Decatur, Louisa, and Ringgold, according to the news release. The counties with the most approved student applications are Polk at 3,144, Linn at 1,318, and Scott at 1,306.