What is an Education Savings Account? - EdChoice

West Virginia

What is an Education Savings Account?

What is an Education Savings Account?

Education savings accounts (ESAs) allow parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. Those funds—often distributed to families via debit card—can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, higher education expenses and other approved customized learning services and materials. Some ESAs, but not all, even allow students to use their funds to pay for a combination of public school courses and private services.


Watch the short, animated video below to see how ESAs work for families.

Seven states have K–12 education savings account, or ESA, programs.

Check out the list below for quick links to those program details, which include approved expense types, family eligibility tests, participation numbers, funding amounts and more.


Arizona (AZ)

Arizona – Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

Florida (FL)

Florida – Gardiner Scholarship Program

Kentucky (KY)

Kentucky – Education Opportunity Account Program

Mississippi (MS)

Mississippi – Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program

North Carolina (NC)

North Carolina – Personal Education Savings Accounts

Nevada (NV)

Nevada – Education Savings Accounts

*This program is currently inactive.

Tennessee (TN)

Tennessee – Individualized Education Account Program

West Virginia (WV)

West Virginia – Hope Scholarship Program


Education Savings Account (ESA) Fast Facts

Do you know which was America’s first ESA program? Which is the biggest? For more little-known truths about America’s education savings account programs, visit our ESA fast facts.



What types of services are parents purchasing with their children’s education savings accounts (ESAs)?

Though many ESA families use their funds to pay for private school tuition, 28 percent spend the money on multiple learning services. Collectively, families even saved 31 percent of total ESA funds and accumulated more than $67,000 in college savings plans in 2016. Our Ed Debit Card study examines parent spending data from the nation’s first and oldest ESA program. Check out our study for more details.



Are parents satisfied with education savings accounts (ESAs)?

Our Schooling Satisfaction report surveyed parents using the nation’s first ESA program about their satisfaction levels with the program, their family profiles and more. In fact, 100 percent of ESA families responded to a survey saying they are some level of satisfied with the freedom and functionality of ESAs. None reported being any level of dissatisfied, and the majority are more satisfied with the ESA than their previous school’s service. Read more of from this report below.



To compare and contrast data from all of the states’ education savings account (ESA) programs, visit our School Choice in America Dashboard.


Questions about Educational Choice?

Choose your path.

Receive Educational Choice Updates Straight to Your Inbox.

Email Newsletter Signup

Follow Our Progress.

Receive Educational Choice Updates Straight to Your Inbox.

Email Newsletter Signup Engage

Privacy Policy