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October 12 2012

Expanding Educational Options with Education Savings Accounts

Vicki E. Alger

Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) let families set aside money to pay for the educational services they think are best for their children, including private school tuition, tutoring, or specialized classes.

Arizona became the first state last year to enact an ESA program. Parents who choose not to enroll their children in public school simply inform the states. The state in turn will deposit 90 percent of what it would have spent on that child into his or her ESA, and parents can purchase the services they need. Next year it will be expanded to include not just students with special needs students, but children assigned to failing public schools, as well as children whose parent are in the military and children from the foster-care system. Any remaining funds can be used for college, too.

A new study by the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice finds that ESAs would provide the more personalized learning options students need to “keep pace in a 21st century economy.”

Parents can utilize ESAs to pay for tutors, online learning programs, private school tuition, and even college expenses. …The idea is to fund students directly, whose parents then can choose the type of education that best suits their needs. ESAs also encourage families to shop more economically for schooling options, as unused funds can be saved for postsecondary education. …

 “If Milton Friedman were alive today, we believe he would say education savings accounts are definitely a course for the future of American education,” Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, said. “Just as consumer-driven advancements have improved our standards of living, parent-driven education savings accounts can increase the quality of our country’s educational landscape.”

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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