All About ESA: Empowerment Scholarship Account Program

I get a fair amount of questions regarding the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program.  So I decided to make a blog post about it.  Here it goes...

General Info

When parents opt-out of placing their child with a disability in a public school, they may be eligible to receive funding from state tax dollars to provide options for the education of qualified students in Arizona.  I am referring to the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA).  An ESA is essentially the money that would have been allocated to the school district or charter school for the qualified student.  But when parents opt out of the public school system and accept an ESA, they can seek a wide range of services such as private schools, home-based education, tutoring, and educational therapies using state funds. It is important to note that students on ESA cannot be enrolled in a public school, charter school, or public online program.  There is an exception when the child attends a public school that is not receiving state funding for the student.  Moreover, the student cannot receive a tax credit (School Tuition Organization [STO] scholarship) at the same time as ESA.


In order to apply for ESA, applications are accepted year-around.  But it takes 45 days to process the application from the day it is submitted.   In order for a preschool student with a disability to receive ESA funding, the student must have a current Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) report or Individualized Education Program (IEP) from an Arizona public school.  There are other demographic requirements to (e.g., proof of Arizona residency).  For K-12 students with a disability, the child must be at least 5-years-old by September 1st of the application year.  Moreover, the student must have attended the first 100 days of the school year prior to the application year. Note: ESA applications containing an Individualized Service Plan (ISP; a private-school IEP) will not be accepted.  Evaluations from private schools will not be accepted.  And medical or psychiatric/psychological evaluations are not accepted.

ESA Website

Interested in more Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program information?  The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has a fantastic website that documents everything ESA ranging from the application process, eligibility requirements, allowable items, guidelines, FAQs, and more.  You can check out the ADE ESA website here. For individuals that already have an ESA, Dr. Andersen does accept ESA payment.  Initial phone consults with Dr. Andersen are always free and you can reach me at 602.699.4543 or