Seminars about state-funded accounts for private school expenses

DES MOINES — Next Wednesday is the first day low income Iowa parents may apply for state-funded accounts to cover a child’s private school expenses.

The New York based company hired to run the program will check Iowa income tax returns to verify eligibility. Odyssey CEO Joseph Connor says if a parent did not file a tax return, they’ll be asked to upload some other evidence of their income.

“A recent pay stub for both parents or guardians from their employer and a letter from each employer verifying annual income for the employee,” he says.

The governor and most Republicans in the legislature voted this spring to make about $7600 available to low income parents who enroll their child in a private K-12 school. Odyssey, the company managing the program, will first make tuition payments directly to private schools. If money’s left over, it must be used on approved expenses like books, software or tutoring available through Odyssey’s website.

The company has been holding online workshops for interested parents this week, with one scheduled for today and another on Tuesday. Today’s will start at noon and will be conducted in Spanish. Applications for the state-funded Education Savings Accounts must be filed online.

In the program’s first year, the money may be used for private school students in a household at or below 300% of the federal poverty line. That’s about $90,000 for a family of four. In three years, all parents — regardless of income — can seek the state money to cover private school expenses, however private schools are not required to accept students.