Iowa’s Student First Act (School Choice)

This week the state of Iowa passed the Students First Act. This allows families who have an interest in an accredited private school to set up an Educational Savings Account (ESA) to help pay for tuition and other qualified expenses. Parents will have to reapply for eligibility before the beginning of each school year (likely by June). The amount placed in these accounts is equal to the amount allocated per student in public school, which happens to be $7,598 for the 23/24 school year.



The goal of this bill is to allow parents at every income level to have a choice in their child’s education. According to Governor Reynolds;

Public schools are the foundation of our educational system, and for most families they will continue to be the option of choice, but they aren’t the only choice. For some families, a different path may be better for their children. With this bill, every child in Iowa, regardless of zip code or income, will have access ot the best school suited for them.



The Program is set to roll out over the next three school years. The ESAs will be immediately available to students entering kindergarten and students who are currently enrolled in public school.

For families with students already attending a private school, ESAs are income-based for the first two years:

  • Year 1: Families at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level can qualify
  • Year 2: Families at or below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level can qualify
  • Year 3 opens the program to any family interested



The bill also increases support for public schools by allocating an additional $1,205 per student attending private school to the local school that child could have otherwise attended.


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