Get State Funding Help

Using Education Saving Accounts for Gemm Learning

If you live in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi or a growing list of states, you should check out state funding to pay for Gemm Learning.  These states will pay for 100% of interventions at home, including Gemm Learning.  The largest program, in Florida, adds funds to your education savings accounts (ESAs), some will pay directly, while others will reimburse expenses that you must pay for first.

The education saving account, formerly called an education IRA is a convenient way for states to fund home spending.  They are lump sums given to qualifying families to spend as they see fit – for approved purposes. As of early 2021, five states had active state-funded programs for families using education savings accounts and four other states have bills in process.

Education savings accounts allow parents to receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses. Those funds 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.

Gemm Learning fits under the online learning program category.

The states with ESA programs are FLorida (Gardiner), Arizona (Empowerment Scholarships), North Carolina (Personal ESA) and Tennessee (Individualized Education Account), Mississippi (Equal Opportunity).

The states looking to add education savings accounts are West Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa and Indiana.  If you live in a state that does not have an ESA state funding, there are many other financial aid sources – some listed here.

Finding Funding for Your Gemm Learning Program

We wish there were an easy way to navigate this process.  But there’s not.  States vary significantly in their process as well as in the types of learners they will support and the type of learning help they will approve.  Some ESAs, but not all, even allow students to use their funds to pay for a combination of public school courses and private services.

The good news is that because Gemm Learning is a live human-supported service that targets autism, dyslexia and other common learning diagnoses, it has been approved or is on a list of accepted providers in a growing number of states.

These initiatives are a part of the “school choice” movement and a response to the rising costs for schools of administering an IEP and providing special needs education. It makes sense for states to give families the tools and funding to find solutions on their own, the hope being that the child can get back on track – which is of course great for the student and for the family who worries about them, and it’s good for your local school budget as it potentially saves them added costs.

A great site for getting information on education savings accounts is Edchoice.    It’s a non-profit that advocates for school choice, and includes good details about ESA’s and the funding options.  Here is a link to their page on funding.

Info on State-Funded Programs For Families at Home

Here is a summary of the main education savings account programs currently active.

Florida Gardiner Scholarship

EdChoice estimates 11% of public school students in Florida are eligible for funding.

If you live in Florida, your child goes to a public school and needs extra learning help – you should be look into Florida’s Gardiner Scholarship Program. It gives students with special needs an opportunity to set up and Education Savings Account and receive state funds.  It is administered by an approved scholarship funding organization (SFO).  The program is administered by two state-approved nonprofit scholarship funding organizations: The A.A.A. Scholarship Program and Step up for Students.  The average grant, which would typically cover multiple services is around $10,500.

Gemm Learning is a Gardiner Scholarship approved provider.

Gemm Learning bills the Step up for Students office directly.  Families do not incur any out of pocket costs while waiting for reimbursement. Application  renewals for families who currently receive the scholarship need to be completed by the end of April.  New families will be able to apply starting in late April. 

You don’t need to have decided exactly on what to do with the money by then, but that is the date to get your application in to get your account funded.

To be eligible, you must be a resident of Florida, enrolled in a public k-12 school  with an IEP with a diagnosis of autism, ASD, Down Syndrome and a number of other diagnoses listed here.  EdChoice estimates that 11% of all students in Florida public schools are eligible for funding.

Apply on the Step Up For Students Gardiner Scholarship application page here.  For more on the AAA Scholarship Gardner Scholarship application process click here.

Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Accounts

EdChoice estimates that 22% of Arizona public school students are eligible.

Arizona also has a very good program for families, called Empowerment Scholarship Accounts.  While the program aims to help children who are struggling, it doesn’t require a learning diagnosis. It’s more focused on family circumstances and the school your child is attending, the assumption being that many Arizona schools are not equipped to handle children with special needs. The Empowerment Scholarship Accounts are a way to help rectify that deficit.

There is a wide range of eligibility requirements – EdChoice estimates that 22% of public school students are eligible, the average funding grant is $14,000.

It started in 2011 and is administered by the Arizona Department of Education. Parents are given the flexibility to make educational choices for their children based on Empowerment Scholarship Account program guideline and access their allocated funds through the ClassWallet program. The Department of Education does not approve vendors but instead requires parents to submit appropriate documentation on services/products acquired.

Gemm Learning has families receiving funding through the Class Wallet program in Arizona.

For more on the Arizona ESA program click here for Arizona eligibility requirements and here for an overview.

Processing time is 45 days, applications for the 2021/22 year due by May 1, 2021.

North Carolina Personal Education Savings Account

EdChoice estimates 10% of students in NC are eligible.

North Carolina’s Personal Education Savings Account program began providing funding to students in the 2018–19 school year. It pays for a variety of educational services,  up to $9,000 per student.  It is focused on autism and special needs mainly.

The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) awards certain students with special needs accounts that are loaded quarterly with funds for qualified educational and therapeutic uses, including private school tuition. Students may attend public school part-time while receiving partial ESAs worth $4,500 if the private school they attend exclusively serves students with special needs. NCSEAA deposits funds in equal amounts once per quarter into the accounts. The maximum value for a full ESA is $9,000 per student per year.

Funds can be used for supplies, tuition and for programs like Gemm Learning.  To qualify, students must have an IEP and be identified as having special needs under the IDEA definition of a “child with disabilities.”

Learn more about the North Carolina Personal Education Savings Account here.

Timing: Applications available on February 1. Beginning March 15, the Authority shall begin selecting recipients for scholarships

Tennessee Individualized Education Account Program

Tennessee gives parents of students with special needs access to an Individualized Education Account (IEA). An IEA can be used for a variety of educational expenses, including private school tuition, private tutoring, learning therapies and more.

Eligibility includes students in K-12 with an IEP and a diagnosis of one or more of the following: autism, deaf-blindness, a hearing impairment (including deafness), an intellectual disability, an orthopedic impairment, a traumatic brain injury, developmental delay, visual impairment (including blindness) and/or multiple disabilities.

Applications accepted year round.

The average account value is $5,830 and roughly 2% of students are eligible statewide.

Mississippi Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program

EdChoice estimates 19% of students in MS are eligible.

The Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Program, an education savings accounts program, allows Mississippi students with special needs to receive a portion of their public funding in a government-authorized savings account with multiple uses.

Students must have had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) within the past five years. While participating in this program, students are not eligible for either a Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship (which is restricted for enrolment in a specialized private school) or a Nate Rogers Scholarship (allows students in K-6 with speech/language impairments to attend a specialized school).

Timing: Applications must be received by June 20 of each year; new ESA recipients notified by July 1.

The average account value is $6,756.

Pending ESA Legislation

Note, we will update this page as legislation to provide state funding to help pay for learning at home is passed.

West Virginia – Passed in WV House on Feb 9, 2021, The Hope Scholarship would give parents the option to use their tax dollars for educational expenses, such as private school tuition, home tutoring, virtual curriculum, learning aids and other acceptable expenses. If passed, West Virginia would become the seventh state with an ESA program. Potentially the program could receive $23 million in state funding if approximately 5,000 students participate.

Amendment made to open up the program to all eligible students – including home school students and private school students — by 2026, or a maximum of 22,000 students at a cost of $101 million annually starting in fiscal year 2027.

New Hampshire – Feb 2, 2021 the Richard ‘Dick’ Hinch education freedom account program,” would create the most sweeping voucher-style program for education in the country. Under the bill, a parent could withdraw their child and that allocation would go into an “education freedom account” run by a private scholarship program. The parent could then use the amount in that account to help pay for tuition at a private school instead – or use it toward tutoring or other expenses. Parents would receive at least $3,700 a year in base adequacy aid, in addition to potential fiscal capacity disparity aid given to low income certain communities.

According to the version of the bill presented Tuesday, the uses for those educational funds could be broad. Parents could spend the money on tuition; online learning programs; contracted services at public schools; computers or technology necessary for their child; software; school uniforms; fees for SATs and other standardized tests; career technical schools; and tuition for college courses.

The accounts would be available to all students currently enrolled in public schools, with no limitations on income.

Iowa – February, 2021 Bill#159 Student First Scholarship Program amended and passed by the State Senate Jan 28, 2021. For purposes of this section,“qualified educational expenses”includes tuition and fees at a non-public school, textbooks, fees or payments for educational therapies, including tutoring or cognitive skills training, curriculum fees, software, and materials for a course of study for a specific subject matter or grade level,tuition or fees for non-public online education programs, tuition for vocational and life skills education approved by the department of education, education materials and services for pupils with disabilities, including the cost of paraprofessionals and assistants.

Indiana – February 23, 2021. On its way to State Senate Education Committee. Establishes the Indiana education scholarship account program. Provides that, after June 30, 2022, a parent of an eligible student or an emancipated eligible student may establish an account in the program. Defines an eligible student as: (1) a student with a disability who requires special education; (2) a student with a parent who is on active duty service in the armed forces of the United States or national guard; or (3) a student placed in foster care or otherwise under care and supervision of the department of child services.

Provides that an eligible student who has an account and attends a qualified school is eligible to receive an annual grant amount that may be used to pay for tuition at an accredited nonpublic school or education related expenses.

Community Based and Family Support Services

Participant-Directed Services are home and community-based services that help people of all ages across all types of disabilities maintain their independence and determine for themselves what mix of personal assistance supports and services work best for them. Participant-directed services are sometimes referred to as consumer-directed or self-directed services. Historically, several initiatives have advanced participant directed services including the Independence Plus and the Cash & Counseling Programs.

Example:  Department of Developmental Disabilities – Minnesota The Developmental Disabilities (DD) Waiver provides funding for home and community-based services for children and adults with developmental disabilities or related conditions.

Family Support Grants – Minnesota
The Family Support Grant (FSG) program provides state cash grants to families of children with certified disabilities. The goal is to prevent or delay out-of-home placement of children with disabilities and promote family health and social well-being by providing access to family-centered services and supports. https://mn.gov/dhs/people-we-serve/people-with-disabilities/services/home-community/programs-and-services/fsg.jsp

Other Sites Worth Checking Out

Department of Education Vocational Services (for adults) – Iowa
https://ivrs.iowa.gov/agency-services

School Districts/Charter Schools – CA, AK, MA – eligibility and availability specific to school or district. Parents have to go after schools…negotiations often hostile.

Autism Funding Unit – Ministry of Child and Family Development, British Columbia
Autism funding helps pay for eligible services or supports that promote skill development for children living with autism. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/child-behaviour-development/special-needs/autism-spectrum-disorder/autism-funding

Military Organizations – SEALKIDS, through its programs, supports the children of Naval Special Warfare- everyday kids living in extraordinary circumstances. This encompassing approach of academic testing, tutoring, therapy, advocacy, and enrichment fosters the success and well-being of the child, critically reducing family stresses and ultimately keeping today’s Navy SEAL in the fight. https://www.sealkids.org/

education savings account for gemm

MORE FUNDING IDEAS FOR GEMM LEARNING

“My daughter has been at the program for almost five months. I have seen a big improvement in all aspects of learning. Most of all her reading and understanding has been awesome. This program has been such a blessing for us that I have recommended it to a few people. My daughter has had a great time with all the games and the rewards. So, a big THANK YOU!!!!! You have given “hope” to my child.” 

Lucy H.

Parent of 1st grader

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