- Education Opportunity Accounts (EOAs) are publicly funded accounts that provide families with direct access to educational resources.
- The Excellence in Education for All Act has a targeted EOA program for the children that need it most.
- EOAs do not require more taxpayer dollars because they are funded by the current average per pupil education subsidy.
- Recent polling shows 73% of Pennsylvanians support programs like EOAs, with strong support across all regions and demographic groups.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are Education Opportunity Accounts (EOAs)?
EOAs are restricted-use accounts that are funded with tax dollars. Like health savings accounts, 529 college plans, or electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards for food stamps, funds in the EOA could only be used for approved purchases—things like tuition, curriculum, tutoring, internet access, and services for students with special needs.
Programs like EOAs (also known as education scholarship accounts, or ESAs) are currently operational in five states: AZ, FL, MS, NC, and TN. Arizona’s was the first program in the nation and now supports about 7,000 students. Florida has the largest program, with nearly 14,000 participants. The other states have fewer than 1,000 participants combined. All the current EOA-type programs focus on students with special needs. Arizona’s also includes military families, students in low-performing districts, foster children, and children on Native American reservations.
West Virginia and Kentucky recently adopted EOA-type programs. WV’s Hope Scholarship Program, the first universal ESA program, is open to all current public-school students.
How would EOAs be funded?
EOAs would be funded using state tax dollars. Individual school districts would no longer receive the average per pupil state education subsidy for the children who participate in the EOA program. Instead, the funds would be redirected to the child’s education opportunity account.
The total cost of the EOA program would depend on how many students apply for an account. Currently in other states, fewer than 5% of eligible students are participating.
Who is eligible for the EOAs in the Excellence for Education for All Act?
The Excellence in Education for All Act would offer an EOA to any child who: has special needs, is from a military family, is from a low-income family, or is assigned to a low-achieving school. Students cannot enroll in public schools and receive an EOA.
How much do students receive from an EOA?
Under the Excellence in Education for All Act, each child participating in the EOA program would receive an amount equal to the average state funding per student minus transportation funding. In 2019–2020 (most recent data available), this equaled around $6,700 per student. For eligible students with special needs, this base amount will be increased using the state’s special education multiplier.
The EOA program recognizes that each child deserves an education that best fits their individual learning needs. The targeted EOAs would directly equip parents with the resources to get their children the education that works for them.
Is there any accountability for the EOAs?
Yes! The EOAs would be administered by the state treasurer, much like the existing 529 program, with funding coming from the state education budget. During the term of the agreement between the student and the state, the state will retain the right to audit the accounts.
More importantly, the ability of parents to choose where and how to spend their EOA funds—as well as funds rolling over for future educational expenses—will drive accountability. These features will give parents the incentive to spend their EOA funds wisely.
Is there public support for EOAs?
Yes! Polling from last February shows 73% of Pennsylvanians support education scholarship accounts, an alternative name for EOAs—and the poll was conducted before schools were closed due to COVID-19. Now that COVID-19 has introduced new challenges to education—it’s likely even more families would support EOAs.