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Iowa School Choice

Iowa School Choice Opportunies

Iowa School Choice is Now Available at The Cambridge Academy!


Students First Act signed into law 

On January 24, 2023, Governor Reynolds signed the Students First Act into law, just two weeks after introducing it in her annual Condition of the State address. The bill makes state education funding available for K-12 students who choose to attend private schools. It also provides public schools with additional categorical funding for students who live in their district but attend private schools, and allows public school districts to use unspent money from some categorical funds to supplement teacher salaries. 

Education Savings Accounts 

With the passage of the Students First Act, parents who enroll their eligible children in an accredited private school will receive an amount equal to the per pupil funds allocated by the state to all public school districts each year. The funds are estimated at $7,598 per pupil for the 2023-2024 school year and will be deposited into an education savings account (ESA) to be used for tuition, fees, and other qualified education expenses. 

Funds are deposited into an education savings account (ESA) each year until students graduate or complete high school or turn 20 years of age. Remaining balances are returned to the state general fund.  

Effective for the 2023-24 school year, ESAs will be available based on the following eligibility:     

Year 1: School Year 2023-24  

  • All kindergarten students  

  • All public school students  

  • Private school students with a household income at or below 300% FPL; for example, a $90,000 household income for a family of four according to 2023 federal poverty guidelines  

Year 2: School Year 2024-25  

  • All kindergarten students  

  • All public school students  

  • Private school students with a household income at or below 400% FPL, according to 2024 federal poverty guidelines 

Year 3: School Year 2025-26  

  • All K-12 students in Iowa regardless of income  

The ESA application period will open in the coming weeks. Families interested in more information should sign up today for our Free School Choice Newsletter to receive the latest notifications when updates are posted. 

Other student funding generated by categorical funding formulas will remain with public school districts. This will include approximately $1,205 per pupil in new funding for students who live in their district but attend a private school.


Governor Reynolds also proposes:  

  • Eliminating burdensome or trivial requirements in Iowa code that restrict schools and teachers from tailoring education appropriately for their students.  

  • Protecting the rights of parents as the primary decision makers regarding their children’s education. 

Educational Flexibility  

Iowa code dictates numerous requirements that schools must meet. Eliminating those that are burdensome, trivial and provide little or no value to the educational experience will eliminate redundant reporting, allow greater flexibility in course credits, and encourage schools to offer options best suited to their students.  

Parent Empowerment  

Parents should have the ultimate responsibility and right to decide what’s in the best interest of their children, including when it comes to their education. Governor Reynolds proposes to define parent rights in law, require transparency, and set boundaries to protect Iowa’s children.   

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