There are opportunities for Iowa parents to choose something other than their assigned public school to educate their children.  Below are available options:

Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)

The Students First Act, introduced by Governor Reynolds and signed into law on January 24, 2023, makes state funding available to support the success of every K-12 student in Iowa.

How it Works

  • Parents who choose to enroll their eligible children in an accredited private school will receive an amount equal to the per pupil funding allocated to public school districts for the same budget school year. Funds will be deposited into an education savings account (ESA) to be used for tuition, fees, and other qualified education expenses as specified in the legislation.
  • The state is issuing a request for proposal (RFP) from businesses with experience managing ESA programs. The vendor selected will support the transfer of funds from the state to families of eligible students and ensure program compliance.

Who is Eligible

ESAs will be available based on the following eligibility:  

  • Year 1: School Year 2023-24
  • All entering kindergarten students
  • All students enrolled in a public school
  • A student enrolled in a private school with a household income at or below 300% of the 2023 Federal Poverty Guidelines, $90,000 for a family of four
  • Year 2: School Year 2024-25
  • All entering kindergarten students
  • All students enrolled in a public school
  • A student enrolled in a private school with a household income at or below 400% of the 2024 Federal Poverty Guidelines that will be updated January 2024
  • Year 3: School Year 2025-26
  • All K-12 students in Iowa regardless of income

Categorical Funding

Other student funding generated by categorical funding formulas will remain with public school districts. This will include funding for students who choose to leave their public school, and for all students who live in the district but attend a private school. In the first year of the program it’s estimated that Iowa’s public schools will receive approximately $1,205 per pupil in categorical funding for students enrolled in private schools.

How to Apply

The Students First ESA Application is available in English and Spanish. The application window for the 2023-2024 school year runs from 8 a.m. on May 31 through 11:59 p.m. June 30, 2023.

Note: Parents/guardians will first be directed to sign up with an email and password. Parents/guardians will receive a message from Odyssey asking them to confirm their email address. After the email is confirmed the parent/guardian can sign in to the Odyssey platform to begin their application.

Apply Now


ESA Document

Tuition & Textbook Tax Credit

Enacted in 1987 and expanded during the 2021 Iowa state legislative session, this state income tax credit now gives parents of public, private and home school students a tax credit to help with educational expenses:

  • Effective for tax year 2021: Tax credit is equal to maximum 25% of the first $2,000 (up to $500) paid for each child in grades K-12 for tuition and textbooks, each school year.
  • Definition of “textbooks” includes expenses for materials used in extra-curriculars such as drama, sports, driver’s education, and similar programs.
  • Parents claim this credit on their Iowa income tax return.
  • This program helps parents offset some of the expense of choosing private education options, as well as all the extras of public education.
  • This tax credit is available to parents of public, private and home school students

Public School Options

  • In certain circumstances, parents may open enroll their student to a public school district other than the district in which they live.  Parents should consult the administration at the district where they’d like to send their children for further assistance.
  • During the 2021 legislative session, Iowa law was greatly expanded to allow for the creation of public charter schools in the coming years.

School Tuition Organization (STO) Tax Credit Program

The Educational Opportunities Act created the School Tuition Organization (STO) Tax Credit Program in 2006. Here are the highlights:

  • Low to lower-middle income families may receive a tuition grant from a School Tuition Organization (STO) to attend the accredited, nonpublic school of their choice.
  • Donors to the program receive a 75% state income tax credit, and can also claim a portion of their donation as a charitable contribution on their Federal income tax.
  • Between 2006 and 2020. the STO Program distributed just under $186 million to students, allowing them to afford the school of their choice.
  • Over 12,000 students receive grants every year.
  • See the STO Directory to contact an STO, apply for a grant or learn how to donate.
  • Download the helpful one page summary on how STO works.
ESA Document

Have questions?

Please contact us if you’d like to know more about our organization, or have questions about school choice opportunities for your family.