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Support for Home-Based Learning – Including Gemm Learning

For decades, only children from more affluent families could afford to support their children with tutoring and learning interventions outside the school.  That has changed with enactment of the Indiana Education Scholarship Account Program in 2021, rolled out in 2022.

Indiana’s Education Scholarship Account Program is an education savings account (ESA) where students  with special needs receive a portion of their assigned state education funding for private school tuition or other educational expenses, including special needs services and therapies, individual classes, testing fees and transportation. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.

What is the difference between the Choice Scholarship and the ESA Program?

The Choice Scholarship Program is a separate program and not affiliated with ESA, although both program are school choice programs. The Choice program allows for public education funds to be put into an account that parents can access, but they can only use those for tuition and fees at state accredited schools.

The ESA program allows for the same thing, but also allows funds to be used for tutoring, therapies, tuition and fees at non state accredited schools, educational programs, camps, etc.. Basically, the ESA program has a much wider variety of qualified expenses for funds to be used on.

Who is eligible for the ESA program?

Students must come from families earning no more than 300 percent of the threshold for free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) ($154,013 for a family of four in 2022–23) and have an education plan for students with special needs. Eligible plans include an Individualized Education Program (IEP) from a public school district as well as a special needs service plan from a private school.

ESA recipients are not eligible to combine funding with Indiana’s voucher, the Choice Scholarship Program. ESA recipients are eligible to combine funding with Indiana’s School Scholarship Tax Credit program. Students are eligible to enroll at age 5, and once enrolled in the program, students remain eligible to receive Education Scholarship Accounts until they graduate or turn 22 years old.

What can ESA funds be used for?

Education Scholarship Accounts may be used for private school tuition and fees as well as other educational services, including testing fees, special needs services and therapies, individual classes and school-sponsored extracurricular activities, and occupational therapy.

Accounts are funded at 90 percent of what a student would receive in a public school, which is affected by a student’s school district of residence as well as special needs status. Parents may roll over up to $1,000 of unused funds in a given year plus previous years’ rollover amounts to be used in subsequent years up to the age of 22.

Where can parents learn more about the Indiana ESA program?

Learn more on this parents page for ESA. This page has details on eligibility, providers and an application link.

Information on Florida’s FES program here, Arizona here and all states with ESA programs here.