Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program

Program Information

  • ESA
  • Program Type: Education Savings Account Program, Special Needs Program, Failing Schools
  • Eligibility: - Special needs and foster care - Active-duty military family -Failing schools - Students living on Native American reservations

Student Participation

  • Student must:
    • Be identified as a child with a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, or by a school district, or be eligible to receive special education services from a school district under state law and have an Individualized Education Program (IEP); or
    • Attend (or an entering kindergarten student zoned to attend) a public school or school district that received a letter grade of a “D” or “F” from the Arizona Department of Education; or
    • Have a parent who is an active-duty member of the U.S. military or was killed in the line of duty; or
    • Be adopted from the state foster care system or placed with a family and has a case plan of adoption; or
    • Be a sibling of a current ESA student; or
    • Live on a Native American reservation; or
    • Have a parent that is blind or hearing impaired
  • Student must have attended public school as a full-time student for the first 100 days of the prior school year; or participated in the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program in the previous year; or be entering kindergarten; or have parents on active military duty
  • Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, students entering kindergarten or grades 1, 6 and 9 are eligible; beginning in the 2018-19 school year, students entering grades K, 1, 2, 6, 7, 9 and 10 are eligible; beginning in the 2019-20 school year, students entering grades K-3, 6-11 are eligible; and beginning in the 2020-21 school year, students entering grades K-12 are eligible; with the exception of those students entering kindergarten, all students must have been enrolled in public school fulltime for 100 days of the prior school year*
*Program expansion has been paused since 2017 while awaiting ballot referendum in November 2018
  • Must sign an agreement to:
    • Provide an education in the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science
    • Not enroll students in a school district or charter school
    • Release the school district from all obligations to educate the student
    • Not accept a scholarship under any of Arizona’s tax credit scholarship programs
    • Use the money deposited in the empowerment account for purposes specified in the law and spend accumulated ESA dollars on basic education subjects
  • Cannot discriminate
  • Cannot share, refund or rebate any empowerment account monies with the parent or student

Data Update

Accounts Awarded
Schools Participating
2017 Expenditures


Scholarship Cap
- 90 percent of the charter school per-pupil base funding (takes into account grade and disability)
- As high as $32,000 for special needs students
- General education student average is $5,500
Enrollment Cap
- Student enrollment may increase by 0.5% of the previous school year’s total public school student enrollment (approx 5,500 students annually), in addition to the prior year’s ESA total. This cap ends in 2020.
Program Funding
- $50.3 million distributed (2017)