Governor Spencer Cox Signs Expansive ESA Program into Law
In the final day of National School Choice Week, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed the Utah Fits All Scholarship program into law, joining the ranks of nine other states that offer families education savings accounts, and following the lead of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who enacted an ESA program into law earlier that week.
“By passing the Utah Fits All Scholarship, Utah lawmakers listened to parents who are demanding more input and flexibility in how and where their students are educated,” said EdChoice President and CEO Robert Enlow. “Learning can happen anywhere, and now thousands of families across the Beehive State will be able to access an education that will forever impact their lives for the better.”
Utah is the second state to create a new school choice program in 2023. Beginning in the 2024-25 school year, all K-12 students in Utah will be eligible to receive an $8,000 annual ESA to fund tuition or approved educational goods and services. The legislature has capped annual appropriations for the program at $42.5 million, and if enrollment exceeds available funding, scholarships will be awarded by order of previous enrollment in the program, students from families with income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, students who have siblings in the program, and students from families with income below 555% of the federal poverty level. The program is Utah’s largest choice offering.
Importantly, the program also increases teacher pay, demonstrating that states can support educational freedom and public-school teachers. If the program is funded and in effect, teachers will receive an additional $8,400 per year. If the program is not funded, they will receive an additional $4,200.
“Legislators in Utah showed an overwhelming amount of support for the Utah Fits All Scholarship, passing the bill with a supermajority vote, which prevents opponents from being able to do a referendum,” said Jon England, Education Policy Analyst at Libertas Institute. “This is an exciting milestone after 16 years of families being deprived of school choice, when opponents successfully overturned Utah’s 2007 voucher law in a referendum fueled by millions of dollars from the NEA.”
In addition to Libertas, EdChoice also partnered with Americans for Prosperity, State Policy Network, SchoolForward, and numerous other local and national coalition members to educate key decisionmakers and build momentum for education reform in Utah.
“In the first month of the year, two states – Utah and Iowa – created new, broad ESA programs, giving half a million students greater access to educational freedom,” Enlow continued. “This bold and decisive action will improve the educational futures for thousands of students for decades to come.”
To speak with Robert Enlow, or an EdChoice scholar, about Iowa’s Students First Act, ESA trends and legislation, or existing educational choice programs across the country, contact Chantal Lovell at Chantal@edchoice.org, or 989-251-8388.
EdChoice is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to empower every family to choose the learning environment that fits their children’s needs best. Learn more at edchoice.org.