Nearly 19,000 State-Funded Education Savings Accounts Approved; Highest Number Per Capita In Sioux County

Des Moines, Iowa — State officials say nearly 19-thousand applicants have qualified for state-funded accounts to cover private school expenses.

In January, Republican legislators approved Governor Reynolds’ plan to deposit state money in Education Savings Accounts that are to be used to pay tuition and other costs for students in a private K-through-12 school. Each account is to get 76-hundred dollars. But there were household income limits.

The number of approved accounts is about a third more than lawmakers had expected. A final report on how many accounts were activated will come in December after officials confirm students were enrolled in a private school.

Some parents who submitted applications may not have found a spot in a private school for their child. In July, state officials indicated 60 percent of applications were from parents whose child already attended a private school. Forty percent were for kids who’d be enrolling in a private school for the first time.

Two years from now, every parent of a private school student may apply for the state stipend. State officials say nearly six-thousand of this year’s applications were denied because they did not meet household income limits or residency requirements.

Sioux County had the highest number of approved applications, per capita, with 12-hundred Education Savings Accounts established for the county’s students. Nearly 32-hundred applications were approved for Polk County, the state’s largest county. There were no applications from residents of Decatur, Louisa or Ringgold Counties.

If every approved account is activated, the state will be spending 144 million dollars on the program this year. House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says that money should be going to public schools to do things like address Iowa’s teacher shortage and expand school-based mental health services for kids. Governor Reynolds, who started lobbying legislators to pass the program three years ago, has said it will spark competition that will benefit students in public and private schools.



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