ESA Homeschool Guide: How to Get Funds for Homeschooling by State

Which U.S. states allow families to use public funds to pay for homeschooling or online schools? Find out in this mega-post!

Emily Veno
• 
March 28, 2024

Every American citizen who pays property taxes funds education. U.S. states spend an average of $13,201 to educate each pupil in the public system per year. Traditionally, if you opted to enroll your children in private school or withdraw them to homeschool, you also opted out of benefitting from public funding.

School choice legislation takes a portion of public money, and put it directly in your hands, to enable you to decide which educational environment is right for your child, regardless of cost. Some programs, such as Education Savings Account (ESA) programs, allow families to use public funds to pay for homeschool curriculum, or online learning programs like Prisma.

Not all school choice legislation is relevant for homeschooling families. In this post, we’ll walk you through the funding options by state.

If you don’t see your state here, there likely isn’t currently any relevant legislation helping families fund homeschool, but the situation in the US is rapidly evolving, so it might change in the near future!

Homeschool Laws in a Nutshell

Homeschooling is legal in every U.S. state, even though not all states allow homeschooling families to access public funds. Each state has its own regulations governing how families register as homeschoolers and what “counts” as homeschooling (for example, some states consider an online school like Prisma homeschooling and some don’t).

Each state also has different requirements for curriculum, assessment, and reporting by parents. There is no such thing as a state approved or accredited homeschool curriculum. Some states (like Missouri and Michigan) have little to no curriculum requirements, and others (like New York and Massachusetts) have a long list of standards you’ll need to cover. You’ll need to research the specific requirements in your state to get started.

School Choice & ESA Programs for Prisma

Not all ESA Programs can be used to fund online schools or learning programs. Some states require that programs be based in the same state where your family lives, for example. But more and more states are beginning to recognize how innovative online programs can allow families more schedule flexibility, personalized learning, and access to a worldwide community of kids.

In states like Arizona, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and West Virginia, ESA programs can be used to cover Prisma tuition directly. In other states, like Florida, Utah, Indiana, and more, families can submit for reimbursement through an ESA to cover Prisma tuition. We are learning more all the time about new programs and how to help your family qualify, so if your state isn't listed, that doesn't mean there aren't options! 

If your state isn’t listed, there are still options. Prisma offers need-based scholarships, and a lower-cost parent-coach program targeted at homeschoolers, to offer more tuition flexibility.

Prisma

Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account

The Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program, as part of the LEARNS Act, will allow homeschoolers to participate by 2025.

Eligibility: Currently only students with disabilities and those in foster care or who are homeless. Will expand to all K–12 students, including homeschoolers, by 2025. However, homeschoolers may need to meet additional requirements, like an annual assessment.

Amounts: 90% of your child’s state education funding (about $6,600 initially).

Use of Funds: The small group of currently eligible students can apply to use funds for private school tuition. Unfortunately, Prisma isn't eligible due to in-state licensing requirements. The expansion of eligible expenses in 2024-25 will additionally include homeschool curriculum, supplemental materials, tutoring, technology, and more, so we'll be checking back to see if we qualify then.

How It Works: According to SchoolChoice Week, “Since the Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account is so new, rules are currently developing. Families can find a handbook and more details at the Arkansas Department of Education website. If you live in Arkansas and have questions about how the program applies to your family’s situation, you can reach out to the Reform Alliance.”

Arizona ESA Funds: Empowerment Scholarship Account

Eligibility: One of the most open states, with ESA funds available to all K-12 students in Arizona, regardless of income, including private school students and homeschool students.

Amounts: $6,000-$6,500 per child per year for Grades 1-12, or $4,000 for kindergarteners. Additional funding available to students with disabilities (who have an IEP, MET, or 504 plan) and military families.

Use of Funds: Funds in the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account can cover a smorgasbord of education expenses, including private school tuition, tuition at online programs like Prisma, homeschool curricula, supplies, tutoring, standardized tests, and therapies.

How It Works: Applications are accepted year-round, with the scholarship amount divided into four quarterly disbursements. The funds are managed through ClassWallet, a third-party vendor that acts as the ESA's payment portal, allowing for direct payments to approved vendors and reimbursements.

Florida FES Funds: Family Empowerment Scholarship

Eligibility: Open to all K-12 students in Florida, removing previous income and enrollment caps. Priority for families below 185% of the federal poverty level or in foster care.

Amounts: Varies by grade and needs.

Use of Funds: Offers scholarships for private school tuition, homeschooling resources (adhering to state guidelines), and transportation to public schools outside the district. For students with special needs, funds can be used more flexibly for services like therapy, curriculum, and private schooling. Families can use FES funds to cover Prisma tuition through the reimbursement program.

How It Works: Families apply through organizations like Step Up For Students, which manages the application process and funds distribution. Once approved, funds are allocated for direct payment or reimbursements for educational expenses.

Idaho’s Empowering Parents Program

Idaho's program, called Empowering Parents, is currently in the expansion process.

Eligibility: K-12 students in Idaho are eligible regardless of whether they attend a public school, private school, or are homeschooled. Funds are dispersed first to families making under $60,000 per year, then families making under $75,000. After that, any funds remaining are distributed.

Amounts: Each eligible family will have access to $1,000 per eligible student, with a maximum award of $3,000 per family.

Use of Funds: Idaho's program does not support private school tuition (which is why Prisma isn't eligible), and instead is intended to supplement what families are currently doing for school. Examples of eligible supplements include curriculum products, tutoring, educational supplies, assessments, and therapies. All awarded funds must be used in the Empowering Parents online marketplace, so parent spending is tightly monitored by the state of Idaho.

How It Works: To complete the verification process, parents must present legal documents for themselves and their child(ren) and verify their income. Applications for each new school year open in the fall, but parents can apply and receive funds any time.

Indiana’s Education Scholarship Account (ESA) Program

Indiana's program for students with special needs is great for families choosing to homeschool or enroll in private school due to their child’s dyslexia, ADHD, autism, or any other common needs making mainstream schooling difficult.

Eligibility: Legal residents of Indiana, aged 5-22, with an active IEP, service plan, or Choice Special Education Plan. As a homeschooling family, if your learner doesn’t have an IEP through a previous public school, you can create one!

Family income must not exceed 400% of the Federal Free or Reduced School Meals limit.

Amounts: Funding equal to 90% of the state funding allocated per student. In 2023-24, the average was $6,203.

Use of Funds: Wide range of educational costs including, but not limited to, tuition and fees for programs catering to special needs, occupational therapy, and more. Up to $750 annually can be allocated for transportation. We have not yet had any families from Indiana attempt to use funds to cover Prisma tuition, but if you are eligible and interested, let us know and we will explore this option with you!

How It Works: Straightforward application process. The program prioritizes payments directly to qualified schools when applicable, with any remaining funds deposited into the ESA account for other eligible expenses. Disbursements are made quarterly throughout the school year​​.

Iowa’s Students First Education Savings Accounts

Iowa’s program covers tuition at accredited nonpublic schools, so it is not a good solution for families who wish to fund homeschool. Although Prisma is an accredited private online school, we don't qualify since we aren't based in Iowa. However, if you’re open to private school in Iowa, you can explore the details on Odyssey’s platform.

Three Funding Options in North Carolina

North Carolina provides three different funding options for students with disabilities, or low-income families, who opt for homeschooling or private schooling.

Students with Disabilities Scholarship Program/Disabilities Grants

Eligibility: Students with a current IEP from a NC public school.

Funding: Up to $4,000 per semester for disability-related expenses​​.

Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for Students with Disabilities

Eligibility: Similar to the Disabilities Grants, requiring an IEP or DEC10 form.

Funding: $9,000 annually, disbursed quarterly​​.

Opportunity Scholarships

Eligibility: Low-income households, including students with disabilities who meet income criteria.

Funding: Up to $4,200 to help cover private school tuition​​ (unfortunately, online schools like Prisma are not currently eligible).

Mississippi’s Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program

Eligibility: Mississippi students with special needs who have had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) within the last three years. This includes those not enrolled in public school, and there's no family income limit. If you’ve been a homeschool family forever, you may not be able to meet this requirement without an official public school IEP.

Funding Amount: For the 2023-24 school year, the ESA provides an annual award of $7,089. This figure may change for 24-25.

Use of Funds: Tuition and fees at eligible private schools (including online schools like Prisma), textbooks, tutoring, testing fees, and licensed therapy services.

Application Process: The Mississippi Department of Education requires homeschooling parents to sign an agreement to comply with the program's statutory requirements. Disbursements are scheduled quarterly.

New Hampshire’s Education Freedom Account Program

Eligibility: New Hampshire residents whose children are entering grades K-12 who have income at or below 350% of the federal poverty level. Notably, students already attending their resident public or charter schools full-time are not eligible​​​​​​.

Amounts: Average of $4,600 per child.

Use of Funds: Includes but is not limited to tuition for online learning programs like Prisma, other private or non-public schools, tutoring services, and educational supplies.

How It Works: Families apply through the Children's Scholarship Fund New Hampshire. The application process involves an agreement including the provision to share academic accountability documents with the state. Applications for the 2024-25 school year are open, with a deadline set for full funding requests by July 15, 2024.

Tennessee’s Individualized Education Account (IEA) Program

The Tennessee program’s requirements are a little rigid, especially for homeschoolers, but if you are in the very small group that qualifies, there are some great benefits.

Eligibility: Students with qualifying disabilities (autism, deaf-blindness, a hearing impairment, an intellectual disability, an orthopedic impairment, a traumatic brain injury, developmental delay, or visual impairment) who have been enrolled in a Tennessee public school for the entire previous school year and have a qualifying Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Funding Amount: Average account value was $6,968 for the 2022-23 school year​​.

Use of Funds: Private school tuition, tutoring, curriculum, therapy, and other approved educational services. Quarterly expense reporting is required. We have not yet had any families from Tennessee attempt to use funds to cover Prisma tuition, but if you are eligible and interested, let us know and we will explore this option with you!

Application Process: Families interested in the IEA Program must apply through the Tennessee Department of Education. The application window for the 2024-25 school year is open from February 15 to April 15. Renewing students follow a simplified process.​

Options for Texas Homeschooling Families

Texas is one of the most homeschool-friendly states, but funding programs are still developing.

Legal Status: Texas views homeschools as private schools, meaning they are subject to fewer regulations than public schools. This classification offers flexibility in how you structure and conduct your homeschooling​​.

Laws in Development: Texas is currently exploring options to further support educational choice through Education Savings Account programs. The latest bill discussions suggest an allocation of about $10,500 per child annually, with special provisions for homeschoolers​​.

Support & Community: The Texas Homeschool Coalition is a popular organization offering support to families with getting started homeschooling in Texas, offering legal advocacy, planning tools, curriculum discounts, and Texas Homeschool Conventions. Note this organization is non-secular.

Utah Fits All Scholarship

The Utah Fits All Scholarship is a brand new, sweeping program that has quickly become one of the most expansive school choice programs in the country.

Eligibility: All K-12 students residing in Utah are eligible, regardless of income or ability. The program is open to public, private, and homeschool students.

Funding Amount: Up to $8,000 for the 2024-25 school year.

Use of Funds: Private school tuition and fees (including at online schools like Prisma), tutoring services, testing fees, educational materials and curriculum, contracted services, and many other approved educational expenses. Families may also utilize up to $750 per school year of the funds for transportation services​​.

Application Process: The application portal for the Utah Fits All Scholarship opens annually from February 28 to April 15. Scholarship award notifications are issued by April 18.

West Virginia’s Hope Scholarship Funds

Eligibility: Students entering kindergarten or enrolled full-time in a West Virginia public school for the entire preceding academic year. Home-schooled students or those in non-public schools become eligible if they enroll in a public school for at least 45 consecutive days at the time of application​​​​, making it a bit trickier for homeschoolers.

Amounts: For the 2024-25 school year, the scholarship amount is set at $4,921.39.

Use of Funds: Tuition at private schools (including online private schools like Prisma), homeschooling curriculum, and other educational costs.

How It Works: Applications for the 2024-25 school year are accepted with deadlines affecting the scholarship amount. Applications submitted from March 1 to June 15, 2024, receive 100% of the scholarship, with reduced percentages for later applications.

Funding Options in Other States

Some states offer other ways to offset the costs of homeschooling, such as tax credits and reimbursements or vouchers exclusively meant for private schools. EdChoice’s School Choice Dashboard offers an overview of all the options.

Homeschool Curriculum Guides

Guide to Different Styles of Homeschooling

Homeschool Unit Study Planning Template

8 Most Popular Online Homeschool Programs

Math Curriculum Guide

Science Curriculum Guide

Writing Curriculum Guide

Guides to Online Schooling Options

Best Online Middle Schools

Best Online High Schools

How to Switch to Online School

Prisma’s Project-Based Online Model: How It Works

Online School for Gifted Learners

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