Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA)

Arizona Department of Education
Laws 2011, Chapter 75 (SB 1553)


An Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) is an account established through the Arizona department of Education to provide a private school education for qualified students.


Who is eligible for an ESA – who is a qualified student?

In order to be deemed a qualified student, the student must meet the following criteria:

  • Is an Arizona resident; AND
  • Is identified as having a disability; AND
  • Must have done one of the following:

ü  Attended public school full-time for the first 100 days during the prior school year; OR

ü  Received a scholarship from a Student Tuition Organization that receives contributions to provide scholarships to students with disabilities pursuant to ARS §43-1505; OR

ü  Received an ESA in the prior year.


How is a student identified as having a disability?

A student must be identified as having a disability under one of the following:

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 US Code §794); OR
  • Identified by a school district as having a disability as defined by ARS §15-761; OR
  • The student is eligible to receive services from a school district under ARS §15-763.


If qualified, how much will each student receive?

The amount deposited into individual ESA’s will vary greatly, depending on the degree of disability. The amount is determined by calculating 90% of each student’s funding level as generated by the school finance formula. The formula includes specific “weights” for different categories of disability, grade levels and even school location.  Additionally, 3% of the amount is retained for the administrative costs of the Department of Education and the Treasurer’s Office.


What can ESA funds be spent on?

Funds must be used to provide qualified students an education which includes, at a minimum, reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science. Eligible expenses are:

  • Tuition and fees at a nongovernmental (private) school for preschool, kindergarten and grades one through twelve;
  • Textbooks required by the private school;
  • Educational therapies or services from a licensed or accredited practitioner or provider;
  • Tutoring services from a state, regionally or nationally accredited provider;
  • Curriculum;
  • Tuition or fees from a private online learning program;
  • Fee for nationally standardized norm-referenced achievement tests, Advanced Placement exams, or any exam related to postsecondary admissions;
  • Contributions to a qualified College Savings Plan (529 Plan)
  • Tuition or fees at an eligible postsecondary institution; and
  • Bank fees charged for the management of the ESA.


How can I get an ESA for my child?

The Arizona Department of Education accepts applications twice a year for Fall and Spring Semesters for ESA funds. The Department will begin accepting applications for the next school year soon.  For the most up to date information regarding the ESA, including application dates, please consult the following:

Arizona Department of Educationwww.azed.gov/esa/

If you have additional questions please email: ESA@azed.gov


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