Brittany Wagner

The Nevada Treasurer’s Office has been flooded with applications from parents seeking to use the state’s new Education Savings Account (ESA) program. An ESA allows parents to withdraw their child from a public school and redirect tax dollars toward other options such as private school tuition, online learning, and tutoring.

The program is an improvement on the traditional voucher, as parents can pick multiple services that match their child’s unique needs and pay for them using a debit card.

Five states have adopted ESAs, but the Silver State’s program is unique in that any student who has attended a public school for 100 days can participate.

In June, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed the revolutionary school choice bill into law. The Treasurer’s Office began accepting applications three weeks ago, and has received 2,000 applications total, with about 100 applications arriving daily.

LasVegasNow reported the state had anticipated receiving a total of 4,000 applications for the entire year, and within 3 weeks they’ve received half that amount. The flood of applications is a testament to the demand among parents for the power to choose where their children are educated.

“I’ve been wanting my kids to go to a private school or to a better school, but my husband and I pretty much work paycheck to paycheck,” the story quotes Sandra Salas as saying. Salas is one of hundreds of Nevada parents who submitted applications.

According to greatschools.org, there are more than 100 private schools within five miles of Las Vegas alone, including St. Ann Catholic School, which only charges $3,900 for tuition. This means that if a child uses an ESA and attends St. Ann, $1,100 will be leftover (students will receive about $5,000 each). Parents can then either choose to spend leftover funds on other educational services like tutoring or leave the money in the account. In that case, funds can be directed toward higher education expenses later on.

The application period for Nevada’s ESA program closes November 30th, and approved families will receive funds the first week of April. I look forward to hearing the final number of applications submitted. Any guesses?

About the Author

Brittany Wagner
Education Policy Research Assistant

Brittany Wagner was an education policy research assistant at the Show-Me Institute.