Newly introduced legislation, SB 1230 and HB 2696, would allow families to receive Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) to help shoulder the extra costs associated with school closures.
These ESAs will lighten the burden on Pennsylvania parents who are managing their children’s education at home. Funds can be used similarly to 529 college plans or health savings accounts, and they would cover a range of educational expenses, such as:
- Tuition and fees
- Extra help for students with learning disabilities
- Computer hardware and computer software
- Fees for counseling services related to academic achievement or social and emotional development
- And much more
ESAs are restricted-use accounts that are funded with tax dollars. Funds deposited in an ESA can only be used for approved purchases. ESAs 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.
The ESAs would initially be limited to families who qualify for the free and reduced lunch (FRL) program. For a family of three, that means households with an income below $40,182.
There are an estimated 600,000 children in Pennsylvania who would qualify for the “Back on Track” ESAs using the FRL guidelines. However, money will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis with a $500 million cap using some of the $1.3 billion remaining from CARES Act funds.