For a lot of parents, tuition costs at private institutions limit them from enrolling their student in a great education program. This is understandable, since some private institutions can cost as much as $10,000 a year in tuition. If you have a child with special needs, that’s a costly addition to necessary services for your child. However, cost shouldn’t bar them from a quality education. A lot of parents might be surprised to find that there are funding options in Arizona that make a private education affordable. What a relief for the parents of children with special needs! If cost is the only thing holding you back from an academic program that will better suit your child, there are options for you.
Arizona has been a leader and an example for parental choice when it comes to the education of their children. Arizonans have funding options for private institutions that other states have started to copy. The current administration has praised these programs that help students learn in the best environment. Students are now able to pursue education at the school that best serves their needs without state restriction. Through funding options like the ESA or STO scholarship, the financial barrier has been lifted. These terms have been thrown around a lot lately, especially as we approach midterm elections, but many people don’t know what an ESA or an STO scholarship entails. Here is a little clarity on what these terms mean:
Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA)
- One of the funding options that Arizona students with autism have access to is the ESA which is an education savings account that is funded in part by Arizona tax payers. These accounts give parents the funds for their child’s schooling which can be used at a private school that suits their child. There are specific requirements that a student must demonstrate before they can be considered for this option. There is a lot of freedom with these education accounts but there is also a lot of scrutiny to make sure funds are being used appropriately.
ESA structuring for use during the school year is fairly rigid and there are requirements that need to be met. It’s important to note that if you want to pursue an Education Scholarship Account for your child, you should contact a support coordinator or the ESA Program sooner rather than later.
School Tuition Organization (STO)
- An STO is an organization that creates scholarships specifically for students with special needs and disabilities in order to help parents manage the tuition burden. These organizations are nonprofit and they often use tax-credit donations from individuals and businesses in order to create their scholarships. Donors receive state tax credits for their donations. There are many of these organizations across the state that want to help families get access to the necessary funding they need.
There is an important note that must be underscored here. These programs are extremely important to the students that rely on them and the certified schools that provide quality education and services to students with special needs. Therefore, always make sure that you research your options thoroughly. If you do get an opportunity to work with an STO, make sure they are certified. If you have an ESA, make sure that you only use taxpayer money for education expenses. Finally, when choosing a school for your child, make sure they are approved by the Arizona Department Of Education.
How Do I Get Access To Funding?
Depending on how your student qualifies for one of these programs, if you wanted to pursue these funding options, you would need to apply. If you have a support coordinator, you can discuss these options with them. There is a lot of research and data surrounding these programs and there are obviously very different opinions on the subject to be heard. Do your own research and speak with experts, but ultimately you need to do what is right for your child.
There are advocates that can help parents as they seek the right academic option for their child. Funding doesn’t have to be the restriction that limits your child from a quality education. There are experts at Lexington Services that can answer critical questions you might have to set you on your path. You can contact them today.
If you are seeking a great school for your child with autism, Lexington Life Academy is the leader in Phoenix and surrounding areas. As an Arizona Department of Education approved private school, Lexington Life Academy ensures students are given a quality education. Through standards-based curriculum and evidence-based practices, your child can excel at Lexington Life Academy. Visit our website for more information or contact our experts to learn more now.
For similar reading, check out the previous blog post here.