What is the Arizona ESA program?
Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) is a program administered by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and funded by state tax dollars to provide education options for Arizona students. The funds go into a special account that allows parents to pay for private school tuition, for curriculum, home education, tutoring and more.
Who qualifies for the Arizona ESA program?
In 2022, the Arizona legislature passed an education bill that greatly expanded the ESA program, allowing every K-12 student in Arizona access to the funds.
Preschoolers (age 3 to 5) sometimes qualify for ESA if they have a special need from a public school and parents can furnish paperwork such as an IEP or a Multidisciplinary (MET) report.
Important: In most circumstances, students on ESA cannot be enrolled in a public school (including district, charter and public online programs). Additionally, the student must be technically withdrawn from the public school at the time that the ESA contract is signed.
How much in ESA funds can I expect to receive?
The ESA allocations are funded at 90% of Arizona’s per pupil base funding. This means that families who have a child with a qualifying need in one of the 13 disability categories may receive higher funding. For example, families with an autistic child to receive around $28,000 annually per year for home education, tutoring, therapy, private schooling, and other approved expenses. The funding for qualifying preschoolers is between $3200 and $9000 per year depending upon the disability.
Now that all Arizona students qualify for the ESA program, allocations amount for regular education students (referred to in the ESA application as Universal Student) are calculated based on your local school district’s per pupil allocation and average between $6,000 to $7000 per year.
You can review the ADE’s Approximate Funding Chart which will give you a general idea of what allocation you can expect to receive.
While ESA accepts applications throughout the year, the scholarship is divided into 4 quarters, and funding received is based on when the contract is signed. The four quarters are:
- Q1: July 1 – September 30
- Q2: October 1 – December 31
- Q3: January 1 – March 31
- Q4: April 1 – June 30
If you sign the contract at any point from July 1 – September 30, you’ll receive Q1 funding. If you sign a contract from October 1 – December 31, you’ll receive Q2 funding, and so on. It generally takes 30 days from the day that a completed application is submitted to receive your funds.
What types of educational services will ESA funds cover?
The ADE maintains a comprehensive list of approved spending categories and ESA allowable items. The ESA stipulates that funds can be used to pay for private school tuition, curriculum, homeschooling, and other educational expenses, allowing for a fairly broad application. For example, ESA funds can be used for STEM and coding classes from approved academies such as CodaKid, as well as qualifying school supplies (however technology purchases such as computers are not allowed).
For qualifying families ESA + Health Insurance is allowed. For families paying higher costs for services like speech therapy, you can now use health insurance first and get a better rate, and then save from having to spend more of your ESA funds. For more information on this provision you can visit A.R.S 15-2402(b)(4)(i).
How can I apply?
To apply, you will need to create an account at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) website. If you are the Parent or Guardian of more than one ESA student, you only need to register once.
Application processing time usually takes about 30 days, and after acceptance you will be required to sign a contract in which you agree to certain terms and conditions regarding the program and approved usage of funds.
Once I sign the contract, what are the next steps?
Once you sign the contract, you will be granted a Class Wallet account. Class Wallet is a 3rd party payment system that the ADE uses to administer payment of funds for approved expenses.
How do I spend ESA funds with Class Wallet?
Once you log into your Class Wallet account and follow the steps to connect your bank account, you will be ready to start using it.
The new ClassWallet Marketplace includes two new redesigned ClassWallet Sourced stores; one for supplies and another for resources, that offer savings on thousands of services and items.
There are four ways you can spend funds from the ESA.
- Shop in Class Wallet Marketplace. You can shop in the marketplace and place orders with various approved online vendors. Upon approval by your administrator, all orders will be processed and funds you spend will automatically reduce your account balance with requiring you to spend out of pocket. For a detailed article on how to shop in the marketplace, check out this Class Wallet article here.
- Pay Schools and Service Providers. If your student’s school or service provider is registered on Class Wallet you can locate them in the Pay Vendor area and make payments. You will need to upload any invoice, statement, or other supporting documentation in PDF, JPEG, or PNG format.
- Submit Receipts for Reimbursement. If you paid out of pocket for a qualifying expense, you can submit receipts for reimbursement after linking your bank account.
- Use a Prepaid Debit Card from Class Wallet. You can use your prepaid debit card from ClassWallet. All debit card receipts need to be uploaded in the ClassWallet portal within the quarter that the expense was made. There are several other rules, regulations, and issues that you’ll need to be aware of when using the ClassWallet Debit Card. Click this link for a helpful FAQ about the ClassWallet debit card. Important Note: As of 8/1/23, we have received reports that the ADE is no longer issuing ClassWallet debit cards. We will update this when we have confirmation.
When you select a service like CodaKid Kids Coding Academy, you can do it either way. A CodaKid Team member will send you an invoice each month or annually (depending on which program you select) which you will then upload to Class Wallet. The ADE will then approve the payment, and transfer funds from your Class Wallet account to CodaKid. Other families opt to pay for our services with their own credit card, receive an invoice from us, and have Class Wallet deposit funds directly into their bank accounts.
Where can I find more information on the Arizona ESA program?
The 2023-24 ESA Parent Handbook is a helpful resource.
If you have questions about how to use ESA funds to pay for CodaKid Online Coding Classes for Kids and Teens, please contact us to learn more about our free trials for private online tutoring or online self-study courses.
How can I network with other families using ESA and stay in the loop on policy changes?
We recommend the Arizona ESA Networking Facebook Group to ask questions and get answers and recommendations from other families using ESA. They are also an excellent resource for information on policy changes that might impact the ESA program.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
I applied and am waiting for my contract? How long will this process take?
By law, the ADE has 30 days from the date you submitted your application to send you your contract.
I plan to homeschool and am waiting for ESA approval. Do I need to fill out the affidavit of withdrawal?
No. Your ESA contract replaces the affidavit.