Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program

  • Education Savings Account (ESA)
  • Enacted 2023
  • Launched 2024

The Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program is a transformative education savings account (ESA) program that will be available to all K–12 students in Arkansas by 2025, after a targeted phase-in in years one and two. Parents must first use funds on tuition and fees at a non-public school prior to accessing other allowed expenses. The ESA can be used to pay for private school tuition and other approved educational expenses associated with the participating school. The program is funded through the state’s foundation funding formula, offering students 90 percent of the prior year’s statewide per-pupil average. Learn more about The Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program, including eligibility, funding, regulations, and more.  

We do not administer this program. 

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  • 3rd

    Arkansas’ Third Educational Choice Program

  • 3rd

    Third-most Expansive ESA in the United States 

  • $6,614

    Initial Account Value 

  • 100%

    Student Eligibility to be Universal by 2025 

  • 64%

    Account Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending

Percent of Students Eligible for the Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program (by 2025)

Student Funding

The Arkansas ESAs are equal to 90 percent of the state’s foundation funding spent per student in the prior education year ($7,349 in 2022–23). Initial ESAs will be valued at $6,614.   

Qualifying expenses for education savings accounts in year 2023-24 include private school tuition and fees, supplies, testing fees, uniforms, and education expenses as determined by participating schools, including supplies, equipment, technology and educational services. Parents must prioritize private tuition before paying for other expenses. 

In 2024-25 and thereafter, qualifying expenses will include all the above, plus curriculum, supplemental materials, tutoring, technology — excluding TVs and video games — fees for college credit and admission exams, fees for career training courses and industry credentials, ESA management fees, transportation, textbooks and all other approved expenses. 

All funds remain in the student’s account until they graduate high school or turn 21 years old, whichever occurs first. 

(Last Updated December 18, 2023) 

Student Eligibility

Student eligibility is targeted in years one and two, transitioning to fully universal by year three (2025). 

  • 2023–24: Targeted eligibility for students with disabilities, homeless, foster care, Succeed Scholars, active-military families, students within the boundaries of F-rated schools, or Level 5 Intensive support school districts, and students entering kindergarten, up to a cap of 1.5 percent of total public enrollment. 
  • 2024–25: Targeted eligibility expands to students within attendance zones of D- or F-rated schools, students with parents who are military veterans or reservists, first responders, and law enforcement officers, up to a cap of three percent of total public enrollment. 
  • 2025–26: Eligibility expands to all K–12 students who are eligible to attend public school in Arkansas, with no enrollment cap. 

(Last Updated December 18, 2023) 

EdChoice Expert Feedback

Although Arkansas’ Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program is one of the most expansive ESAs in the country and has the potential to help tens of thousands of students obtain the educational services that best fit their needs, participating students must be enrolled in a private school. 

Eligibility will be targeted and capped in years one and two, with all K–12 students being eligible to receive an ESA by 2025. Additionally, there are no enrollment or budget caps by 2025. 

ESAs will be funded at 90 percent of the state’s average per-pupil foundation funding (prior year), absent administrative expenses. The ESA will empower families with the freedom and broad flexibility to customize their child’s education, including transportation expenses and unbundled courses at a public school. The program’s rollover provision will allow parents to save for future educational expenses.  

In order to make this program even more expansive for Arkansas families, policymakers should improve access by including students who wish to use their ESA for individualized instruction in a non-school setting (e.g. home). 

Administration of the Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program is overseen by the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, who may contract with a third-party manager if they choose to do so. This administrative structure should give the state department the flexibility to adapt to the needs of parents and ensure the program is run effectively. The program generally avoids counterproductive regulations. 

This analysis is limited to the Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program contained within The Learns Act; it does not address other elements of the Act. 

Separate from the ESA component, The Learns Act increases the minimum public school teacher base salary from $36,000 to $50,000 in 2023, provides for an additional $2,000 raise, and includes a merit pay provision for the highest performing teachers to receive a $10,000 annual bonus. 

(Last Updated December 18, 2023) 

Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations 

  • Income Limit: None 
  • Prior year public school requirement: None 
  • Geographic limit: Statewide  
  • Enrollment Cap: 1.5 percent of total public school enrollment in year one, 3 percent of total public school enrollment in year two, no enrollment cap thereafter 
  • Account Value: 90 percent of prior year foundation funding ($7,349 per student in 2022–23) 
  • Testing Mandates: State or Federal (except IEP status)  
  • Budget Cap: None 

Parent Requirements: 

  • Initial application.  
  • Only use funds for qualified expenses under Arkansas Code § 6-18-2501 through 6-18-2511.
  • Not enroll full time in public school. 
  • Comply with all Arkansas Children’s Educational Freedom Account Program requirements according to the state board. 
  • Starting in 2024-25, provide instruction in English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. 

(Last updated December 18, 2023) 

Governing Statutes

To be added upon enactment. 

Arkansas Code § 6-18-2501 through 6-18-2511. 

(Last updated December 18, 2023)