Now is the time to apply for Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA) for the upcoming school year.
Established by the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act of 2015, the ESA program provides scholarships to parents of students with disabilities who want to remove their child from a public school to seek educational services elsewhere. ESA recipients are eligible to be reimbursed up to $6,765 in 2019-20 for the cost of private educational services.
The Mississippi Department of Education anticipates that 415 ESAs will be used by students returning from the 2018-19 school year, and applicants who would like to be considered for the remaining 280 ESAs must apply by June 20, 2019.
To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria.
- the applicant must be a Mississippi resident.
- the student must have had an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within five years of the date of application.
- the parent must sign an agreement to adhere to the rules of participation.
ESAs will be awarded on a first come, first served basis and priority will be given to families that have previously submitted an eligible application but have not yet been awarded an ESA.
Letters will be mailed to new ESA recipients upon approval, no later than July 1, 2019. Applications received after June 20 will be reviewed and considered for approval on a rolling basis in accordance with the ESA law, until such time as 50% of the enrollment cap is reached.
Parents who are accepted into the program will be reimbursed quarterly after submission of a reimbursement request with proper documentation of expenses incurred. Funds can also be paid quarterly directly to an educational service provider if approved by the parent.
The legislative appropriation for 2019-20 provides for approximately 695 ESA accounts for the 2019-20 school year. Bills to expand and extend the program died during the 2019 legislative session, but $2 million in additional funding was approved in the final days of the session.
For more information, visit www.mdek12.org/OSE/ESA or call the MDE Office of Special Education at 601-359.