Just two weeks ago, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed our country’s first universal Education Savings Account (ESA) program into law. With this act, Nevada has set itself apart as a pioneer, creating opportunities for a truly customized education for every student. While Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee also have ESA programs, only certain students, such as those with exceptional needs or in failing schools, can participate.
Under Nevada’s universal ESA law, however, any student who has been enrolled in a public school system for at least 100 days can choose to withdraw and gain access to funds that can cover services like:
- Online learning programs
- Private school tuition and fees
- Standardized examinations
- Dual credit tuition and fees
- Transportation to and from school
Targeted at students who are already benefitting from state funding, this law does not consider students already enrolled in private schools or homeschooling to be eligible. Participating low-income or exceptional needs students would receive $5,700 each, and other students $5,100, all from funds that would have been allocated to these students’ zoned district schools. Any money that is not spent in an individual student’s account would roll over year-to- year. Consequently, students can choose when they will use the savings, which could even fund post-high school, state college expenses.
Nevada’s new ESA law provides a wonderful model for South Carolina education reform, and we offer our congratulations to Nevada families and students. While South Carolina’s new scholarship tax credit law has helped some exceptional needs students get the education they need by granting 100% tax credits to individuals or groups who fund these students’ private-school scholarships, as a state we could do more.
A South Carolina ESA law could help address education needs in our rural communities, take pressure off of communities like Mt. Pleasant that face overcrowded public schools and increase educational options for families across the state, putting more power into parents’ hands. Could South Carolina be the next state to have an ESA program? Only your support can make it possible!
Jessa is a Palmetto Promise summer intern from Aiken, SC. She homeschools and is a rising senior.