Montana Special Needs Equal Opportunity Education Savings Account Program

  • Education Savings Account (ESA)
  • Enacted 2023

Montana’s Special Needs Equal Opportunity Education Savings Account program provides families of students with special needs who meet the federal definition of a “child with disabilities” under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) an account with a maximum annual allocation up to $8,000 for flexible educational and therapeutic uses, including private school tuition. The accounts may also be used for education-related transportation. Learn more about this program’s funding, eligibility, legal history and regulations on this page. 

We do not administer this program.  

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  • 1st

    Montana’s first Education Savings Account

  • 13th

    Thirteenth ESA program in the United States

  • 12%

    of Montana Students Eligible

  • $6,000

    (elementary) $8,000 (high school) Initial Account Value 

  • 65%

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

Student Funding

The Montana State Superintendent will award certain students with special needs accounts that are loaded twice per year with funds for qualified educational and therapeutic uses, including private school tuition.  

The ESA amount is calculated by a combination of several factors under the state’s BASE aid, amounting to an estimated $5,000 to $6,000 for elementary students, and between $6,400 to $8,000 per high school student, or 65 percent of overall public school funding. 

Qualifying expenses for education savings accounts include tuition and fees; software; online programs and tutoring; distance learning; curriculum and supplemental materials; educational therapies and services; standardized test fees (plus college entrance); unbundled courses at public school; $50 for consumables (such as paper and pens); transportation; college tuition; books; and fees to education co-op. 

Funds roll over each year until the student’s 24th birthday. 

(Last updated December 18, 2023) 

Student Eligibility

To qualify, students must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and be identified as having special needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) definition of a “child with disabilities.” These include students with autism, an intellectual disability, a hearing or visual impairment, a speech or language impairment, a serious emotional disturbance, an orthopedic impairment, a traumatic brain injury, another health impairment and/or a specific learning disability. Qualified students must also be  Montana state residents between ages five and 19, and must have attended public school in the previous school year, or be newly eligible to attend public school in Montana, or have been enrolled in the previous school year at a school for juvenile corrections or the deaf and blind. 

(Last updated December 18, 2023) 

EdChoice Expert Feedback

Montana’s ESA program for students with special needs could help thousands of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do much more to expand educational opportunity. 

Eligibility for the ESA is limited to students in grades K–12 with a disability. Roughly one in 10 of Montana’s students are eligible for a scholarship and less than 1 percent of students statewide actually use one of Montana’s educational choice programs (including the Tax Credits for Contributions to Student Scholarship Organizations). 

To expand access to educational choice, Montana policymakers should expand eligibility to all students. Montana’s ESA program generally avoids unnecessary and counterproductive regulations. 

(Last updated December 18, 2023) 

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None 
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Conditional 
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide 
  • Testing Mandates: None 
  • Enrollment Cap: None 
  • Account Value: BASE aid calculation; Estimated $6,000 for elementary and $8,000 for high school. 
  • Limited to students with special needs 


Parent Requirements: 

Parent must sign an agreement to: 

  • Use funds for allowable educational resources 
  • Release the school district from all obligations to educate the student 
  • Submit copies of receipts to superintendent of public instruction 
  • Notify superintendent of public instruction if the student re-enrolls in public school 
  • Ensure student attends school regularly if enrolled at a qualified school 
  • Comply with school’s published policies 

(Last updated December 18, 2023) 

Governing Statutes

Mont. Code Ann. §§ 20-7-1 through 10 

(Last updated May 30, 2023)