Reynolds touts start of application period for state-funded ESAs

DES MOINES — Some Iowa parents may begin applying for $7600 in state funding to cover private school tuition for their children today. The plan for state-funded Educational Savings Accounts was the number one legislative priority for Governor Kim Reynolds and she released a video message on the topic this morning.

“Today marks an important milestone for Iowa’s education system as universal school choice becomes a reality for Iowa families,” she said.

Not all parents are eligible this year, however, as only parents with an annual household income at or below 300% of the federal poverty line may apply. In year three, every parent of a private school student becomes eligible.

“I believe education is the great equalizer which is why it was so important to remove the boundaries that have existed between public and private schools for too long,” Reynolds said.

A New York company is managing the online portal where Iowans apply for the state funding and the company makes the tuition payments to private schools. If there’s money remaining, it may be used for other approved expenses, like tutoring or school books.

“Today, we’re changing the face of education in Iowa and influencing what it looks like nationwide,” Reynolds said. “I believe that school choice will improve our overall education experience in Iowa. I believe it will create a system of schools, both public and private, that are driven by student centered missions.”

The application period for low-income parents who enroll their kids in private schools opened at 8 a.m. today (Wednesday) and closes June 30th. Some private schools have raised tuition by double digits. Bishop Heelan Catholic High School in Sioux City raised tuition by 24%.