In general, Education Savings Accounts, also known as ESAs, give parents the opportunity to withdraw their student from their local public or charter school and enroll the student in the school of their choice. Through an ESA parents receive a deposit of public funds, typically on a government distributed debit card, into government-authorized savings accounts with some restrictions. Often times, this account can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, tutoring, community college costs, textbooks, curriculum and the list goes on to other approved customized learning methods and materials. Here is a video by school choice advocacy organization, EdChoice, explaining more about ESAs.
ESAs could be coming to the state of New Hampshire soon. The ESA bill is currently waiting to be voted upon by the state House of Representatives in January. The bill was originated and passed in the New Hampshire State Senate, back in April.
New Hampshire clearly wants more choice when it comes to their students’ education. EdChoice conducted a poll earlier this year stating that 46% of New Hampshire voters said they would rather send their child to a private school if they had the choice and paying tuition wasn’t a problem! The same poll also found that 71% of New Hampshire parents with school-aged children are in favor of ESAs, and 63% of voters with a household income under $40,000 also support ESAs.
If New Hampshire enacts it’s ESA bill, ESAs would be available to parents of public school children. Their income is to be below 300% of the federal poverty level for a family of four. The parents who enroll in the program would receive a pre-loaded debit card with their ESA funds. With this card they could choose to pay for private, parochial, or other public school tuition and fees. It could also be used to pay for textbooks, tutoring services, computers, online courses, transportation fees, and educational therapies. The savings account could also cover the fees of required national standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT.
Funding for each ESA in grades 1-12 would equal 95% of New Hampshire’s per-pupil adequate education grant amount, except for their kindergarten year. For a student’s kindergarten year, funding would be set at 50%. If a family has funds leftover at the end of the school year, the funds can roll-over into the next school year and each year of the child’s eligibility thereafter. ESAs in New Hampshire could also be available to help pay for tuition at postsecondary schools or used to fund the federal 530 Coverdell Education Savings Account college savings plan.
This bill could change the education landscape of New Hampshire for the better, and set an example for the rest of the States as well!