Education Savings Account Program

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

Iowa’s Education Savings Account Program is an education savings account (ESA) that allows eligible parents to receive the perpupil state funding already set aside for their children’s education into an electronic, parent-controlled fund for educational expenses. Those expenses can include private school tuition, tutoring, credentialing, therapies, online learning, and more. Parents must first use funds on tuition and fees at an accredited non-public school prior to accessing other allowed expenses. Learn more about how the program works on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, and more. 

We do not administer this program.

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  • 3rd

    Iowa’s Third School Choice Program

  • 3rd

    Third Most Expansive ESA in the United States  

  • 18,893

    Students Participating (Fall 2023)

  • 94%

    of Students Eligible Statewide (100% starting in 2025–26)

  • $7,413

    Maximum Account Value 

  • 62%

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

Percent of Iowa Students Eligible for the Education Savings Account Program

Student Funding

Iowa Education Savings Accounts are equal to 100 percent of the same budget year’s regular program state cost per pupil ($7,413 in 2022-23), which is about 62 percent of the value of total current public school per-student spending in the state. 

Qualifying expenses for Education Savings Accounts include private school tuition and fees; textbooks; tutoring services; cognitive skills training; fees for nationally standardized assessments, advanced placement exams, and any college admission exams; tuition and fees for non-public online learning programs; educational services and therapies; vocational and life skills education.  

All funds remain in the student’s account until they graduate high school or turn 20 years old, whichever occurs first. 

(Last Updated December 18, 2023)

Student Eligibility

Students who previously attended a public school or are entering kindergarten are eligible. In the first year, students who attended private school the previous school year must be from a family whose income does not exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($90,000 for a family of four in 202324) to be eligible. In 202425, students who attended private school the previous school year must be from a family whose income does not exceed 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($120,000 for a family of four in 2023-24). Starting in 202526, all students in the state are eligible. 

Parents must reapply each year after initial approval. 

(Last Updated December 18, 2023)

EdChoice Expert Feedback

Although Iowa’s Education Savings Account Program will be one of the most expansive ESA programs in the country once phased in and has the potential to help hundreds of thousands of students obtain the educational services that best fit their needs, participating students must be enrolled in a private school. Policymakers could do more to expand educational opportunities. 

All Iowa students are eligible to receive an ESA if they are switching out of a public school in grades 112 or entering kindergarten, or if they were previously enrolled in private school and their family income is below the threshold in the first two years of the program. In the program’s third year, all students in the state will be eligible. 

ESAs are funded at 100 percent of the state’s regular program cost per pupil per-pupil funding, absent administrative expenses. The ESA empowers families with the freedom and flexibility to customize their child’s education, and the program’s rollover provision allows them to save for future educational expenses.  

The program is administered by the Iowa Department of Education, which may contract with a third-party manager. 

In order to make this program even more expansive for Iowa families, Iowa policymakers could improve access by including students who wish to use their ESA for individualized instruction in a non-school setting (e.g. home), and relax the limitation on accreditation for participating schools, such as microschools. Additionally, they could allow ESA spending on transportation (as Arizona does). Although it is a hurdle for parents to have to reapply for the funding every year, the program is otherwise fairly light on parent requirements outside of clearly defined eligible expenses. The requirement of all participating students to take state and federally required assessments has more of a potential to deter participation than allowing students to choose from a variety of nationally norm-referenced tests like similar programs. 

(Last Updated December 18, 2023)

Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: Conditional
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Yes, unless income less than 300% x Poverty (400% in 2024-25); requirement removed in 2025-26
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: No
  • Account Cap: 100 percent of the regular program state cost per pupil
  • Testing Mandates: All applicable state and federally required assessments

Parent Requirements

  • Parents must reapply each year after initial approval.
  • Parents must first use funds for all expenses that are tuition and fees for which they are responsible for payment at the student’s private school prior to using the ESA for other qualified expenses.
  • Parents must not spend account funds on transportation costs, food or refreshments, clothing, or the cost of disposable materials.


(Last Updated December 18, 2023)

Governing Statutes

Iowa Stat. §257.11B