Universal Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA)
The Universal Empowerment Scholarship Account (more commonly known as ESA) is available to all families, regardless of income. The ESA is all about school choice. Funding that would otherwise have gone toward a public or charter school, can be made available to families who choose to send their child(ren) to a private school. It is a wonderful option for families who are not eligible to receive private scholarships, and do not want to pursue Tax Credit Scholarships. Because this source of funding is so new, we’ve prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help you better understand this exciting option which can be used to help you afford private school for your child. We encourage you to read through these FAQs as ESA rules have changed.
Universal Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) FAQs
Q: Which funding source should I choose – ESA or Tax Credit Scholarships?
A: Each families’ situation is different. Families should consider several factors such as tuition costs, anticipated funds from each funding source, financial ability beyond potential scholarships/ESA funding.
Currently, ESA funding is approximately $4000/yr for kindergarteners and approximately $6700 for grades 1 – 12 for the current school year. If tuition costs exceed ESA funding for the quarter, parents are responsible for paying the balance due during that quarter.
Q: Can I still apply for the Universal ESA program for the current school year?
A: Yes! ESA applications are accepted online year-round
Q: Can one child in our family use an ESA and another child use Tax Credit Scholarships?
A: Yes! Both programs are students based, not family based.
Q: Can my child use Tax Credits/Scholarships for one quarter and ESA funding for another?
A:The law has changed for the 23-24 academic year. At this time, you are allowed one “switch” from either ESA to Tax Credit Scholarships OR Tax Credit Scholarships to ESA. Keep in mind, once you cancel your ESA Contract, you will not be allowed to reapply to ESA until the following academic year. Also, if you switch from Tax Credit Scholarships to ESA, Casas will need to repay ALL Tax Credit Scholarships for the current academic year, even if it is for a quarter that you did not receive ESA funding.
Q: Can I use Tax Credit Scholarships and ESA funds at the same time to pay for tuition?
A: No. ESA funding and tax credits may not be used to pay for tuition within the same quarter.
Q: Is my income too high to qualify for the Universal ESA?
A: There are no income qualifications for Universal ESA.
Q: If we haven’t taken ESA in the past, am I still eligible?
A: Yes! All private school students are eligible for ESA funding.
Q: What if I already took ESA funding and want to use my tax credits for the next quarter?
A: If your student’s ESA funds have already funded the current quarter tuition and you would like to utilize tax credits for subsequent quarters, you must cancel your ESA contract prior to funding being disbursed for the next quarter. As mentioned previously, once you cancel your ESA contract, you will not be able to reapply until the following academic year.
Q: If we are a split household, can one parent utilize ESA for their parts and the other parent utilize tax credits?
A: No. Tax credits and ESA funding may not be utilized during the same quarter for the same child.
Q: What happens to Tax Credit Scholarships already sent to the school?
A: Since ESA funds and Tax Credits may not be utilized simultaneously during the same quarter, tax credits will be returned to the STO and held in the student’s name. Funds may even be held from school year to school year, however, applications must be filed with the STO each year for the funds to remain in your student’s account.
For more information about ESA, visit https://www.azed.gov/esa