Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

Thousands of Arizona families send their children to the private school of their choice with an Empowerment Scholarship Account!

Does your child qualify?

Apply Now!

Parents of students who are CURRENTLY eligible can still apply for an Empowerment Scholarship Account for the 2017-2018 school year.  The application is online and processed through the Arizona Department of Education.  To be directed to the online application, simply enter your name, email address and zip code and click ‘Apply Online.’

Additionally, the application for 2018-2019 is open!  Make sure to select the correct application year when applying.

To see if your child is eligible to apply NOW and to learn more about the eligibility categories, see below under ‘Who Qualifies?’

Questions?  Contact Sarah Raybon, Arizona Director of Implementation at 928-864-7789 or sraybon@federationforchildren.org

About Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

The Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program, which began in the 2011-2012 school year, is the new frontier in school choice.  It was expanded in 2012 to include students in failing schools, foster care children, and children of military personnel, in addition to special needs students.

On April 6, 2017, S.B. 1431 was signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey.  This groundbreaking legislation expanded the ESA program, making every child eligible to enter the program (phased-in over 4 years and subject to enrollment caps).  Unfortunately this expansion is on hold pending a court decision.

The Empowerment Scholarship Account program is administered by the Arizona Department of Education and funded by the state.  The program gives parents the freedom to choose the best education for their child.  Parents can use ESA dollars to pay for private school, home school curriculum, tutoring or educational therapies.

The average ESA amount is $5,000.  A student with special needs receives a higher amount based on the student’s IEP eligibility category.

Parents receive the ESA funds on a pre-paid debit card and must complete an expense report quarterly.

Students cannot receive School Tuition Organization (STO) tax credit scholarships while participating in the Empowerment Scholarship Account Program.

Who Qualifies?

In order to be eligible for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program for the 2017-2018 school year, a student must reside in Arizona and meet the following qualifications:

One of the following:

  • Be enrolled in an Arizona public or charter school for FIRST 100 days of the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Be eligible for Kindergarten for the 2017-2018 school year (5 years old by September 1, 2017).
  • Be eligible for Preschool for the 2017-2018 school year (3 or 4 years old on or before September 1, 2017).  Only special needs students qualify for an ESA for preschool.
  • In some cases, received a scholarship through a School Tuition Organization (STO) for Displaced/Disabled (DD) students while in Kindergarten.  Contact sraybon@federationforchildren.org for more information.

AND must qualify under one of the following:

  • Student with a disability (must have a current IEP, MET or 504 Plan from an Arizona public or charter school.)
  • Student who attended a D or F rated public school for the 2016-2017 school year.  See link below for a list of D and F rated public schools.
  • Student who has an active duty military parent serving in the armed forces OR parent was killed while serving active duty.  (No public school attendance requirement for military families).
  • Student who was a ward of the court and has been adopted OR student who is a ward of the court and the plan is to adopt.
  • Student who has a sibling that is receiving an ESA for the 2017-2018 school year.
  • Student who resides within the boundaries of an Indian reservation.
  • Student has a parent or guardian with a hearing or vision impairment.
  • *ESA EXPANSION UPDATE:  Recently passed legislation made EVERY child eligible to enter the ESA program (phased-in over 4 years). *Unfortunately, a group hostile to school choice and Arizona’s ESA program has been able to gather enough signatures to block S.B. 1431 from becoming law.  However, due to irregularities and fraud found in the petitions, our legal team will be challenging this group in court.  In fact the Secretary of State’s office has sent several examples to the Attorney General’s office for potential fraud charges and two legislators have had ethics complaints filed against them regarding the petitions they gathered. 

Click here for a list of D or F rated Arizona public schools.


For more information, visit the Arizona Department of Education’s website or download the department’s ESA Parent Handbook.