What Is an ESA?

“ESA” stands for Education Savings Account and is one of the most creative ways to provide school choice to children and families who are looking for a different option. ESAs allow parents to create a customized learning experience for their children from a wide variety of educational services.

How Do ESAs Work?

An ESA works in a very similar way to Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) that many people currently use to pay for their healthcare. Under an ESA, the state would place the amount of money it spends for a child’s education into a restricted account for the benefit of that child. Parents would then be able to pay for that child’s educational needs from those funds for approved expenses like tuition and fees at an approved school. If parents do not spend all of the money placed into the account, the money rolls over to the next year and can continue to be used for educational needs as they arise. If, at the end of a child’s K-12 education, there is still money in the account, parents can use those funds to pay for college expenses for their child.

What Can I Pay for Using an ESA?

As with a FSAs and HSAs for health care, ESA funds may be used for a variety of things, including: tuition or fees at qualified participating schools, tutoring, online learning programs, fees for specialized or advanced courses or testing, fees for college entrance exams, savings for future higher education expenses, or services or therapies for students with disabilities.

Who is Eligible to Receive an ESA?

Any public school student in Georgia may apply for an ESA. Under current legislation being considered, students would need to be in a public school for at least one semester in order to qualify for an ESA. That’s it.

Is Georgia Considering Creating an ESA Program?

Yes! Representative Mark Hamilton and Senator Hunter Hill and a whole host of other legislators are sponsoring legislation right now to create ESAs in Georgia.

You can read the bills here:


What Can I Do to Help?

We’re glad you asked! Chances are, if you’re a parent, you’re excited about the idea of having the flexibility and control that an ESA would provide. If that’s true you, we need your help. We need you to help us get the word to your state legislators that you support this effort. You can do that by signing up to attend one of our lobby days during the session or by contacting your Representative and Senator personally.

To receive updates on the progress of this legislation – Click Here

To sign up to attend the rally on Jan. 27th to support the legislation – Click here

Are you willing to contact your legislator to urge them to give you the opportunity to have ESAs in Georgia? Sign up here to learn how

Join our Facebook pages here and engage with us on social media to support this effort:

ESA’s are not vouchers in many important ways:

  1. A school voucher allows a child to leave his traditional public school in favor of a participating private school. The state issues payment directly to the school on behalf of the parent/child.
  2. With a voucher, only tuition at a participating private school is covered.
  3. If the participating private school is cheaper than the amount the student would have received in public school, the savings are realized by the state and are not available to the child for additional educational services or future educational expenses.
  4. With an ESA, the child/parent has access to the same amount of money he would have received with a voucher, but the funds are instead deposited into an account controlled by the parent (with appropriate oversight by the state to safeguard against misuse of funds).
  5. Funds can be used, usually through a restricted-use debit card, for many different options including payment for online classes, tutoring, services and therapies for students with disabilities, curricula and educational software, and even private school tuition.
  6. ESA’s are much more flexible and have broader application than vouchers, which are limited only to private schools.
  7. In the event of leftover funds after meeting the child’s academic needs for the year, ESA’s allow the savings to roll over for use in educating the child in future years, including paying for AP exams, SAT or ACT exams, even college or technical school if there are funds remaining after high school graduation.

How Do You Prevent Fraud in the Program

Parents wanting their child to participate in the ESA program will have to sign an agreement that outlines the proper uses of the funds and that imposes penalties for the misuse of ESA funding.

Providers of services and materials who want to be a part of the ESA program will need to be approved and will be assigned special codes and procedures for their participation (this list will constantly be growing as parents seek out new providers and materials for their children).

The state will conduct regular audits of the program to ensure compliance and uncover any abuses, and will prosecute those committing fraud.

ESA debit cards would likely be issued that would provide real-time reporting and approval or denial of spending under the program.

Where Else Have ESAs Been Tried

Arizona passed the first ESA legislation in 2011 and now Florida, Nevada, Tennessee, and Mississippi have enacted ESA legislation in their states.