New era for school choice in Indiana begins Monday | State

Parents and guardians of Indiana children with disabilities can take advantage of a new state program giving them total control over their child’s education funding.

The Indiana Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program offers maximum flexibility to families who choose to opt out of traditional schooling in favor of finding their own appropriate education programs and services for their eligible child.

The program provides tax-free funds to eligible students for pre-approved education expenses, including tuition, therapies, assessments and fee-for-service transportation at pre-approved education service providers.

Students participating in the program receive 90% of their basic state tuition support as well as 100% of the special education dollars allotted to their student. The total amount varies by local school district.

The funds will be deposited directly into each student’s Indiana ESA account in quarterly payments. This account will be available to parents via a secure online portal, which they’ll use to make payments directly to providers from the student’s account.

Debit cards are not available, and funds are not deposited directly into personal bank accounts.

Scholarship recipients cannot be enrolled in a public or charter school, or receive a state voucher for private school tuition. But they can use their scholarship funds to purchase services from a public or private school if the school participates in the program.

The Indiana ESA application window for the 2022-23 school year runs from Monday through Aug. 5.

The application and more information about the program are available online through the state treasurer’s office:

To be eligible, a student must be a resident of Indiana; between 5 and 22 years old; require special education services and have an Individualized Education Program (IEP), Service Plan (SP), or Choice Special Education Plan (CSEP); and a family income less than $101,000 for a family of two, $127,000 for a family of three, $154,000 for a family of four or $180,000 for a family of five.

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“After so much preparation, input, and study, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Indiana ESA Program,” said State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell.

“Families will have more opportunities to meet their child’s individual education needs by taking control of the resources they are entitled to through an Indiana ESA account. I encourage all eligible Hoosiers to consider applying.”

The 2023 General Assembly is expected to consider expanding the Indiana ESA program to all students in the state.