Students in New Jersey could have the opportunity to participate in a private school choice program — if one of two companion bills make it out of state senate or assembly education committees and are approved by the New Jersey legislature.
Earlier this year, New Jersey legislators introduced A1545, which would establish the state’s first Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program for non-public and elementary and secondary school children. This bill, which was carried over from A1476, would be similar to other ESA programs in that it would allow parents to receive state money in the form of a government-authorized savings account. This money could then be used for a variety of educational services such as school tuition, tutoring, curriculum materials, and may even be carried over to help pay for college expenses.
To apply for the program, students have to have previously attended public school for at least 100 consecutive days. Grant amounts would be weighted, according to a student’s financial need. Students with families earning no more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, about $46,435 for a family of four, or who receive special education services, could receive a grant equal to 100 percent of the statewide equalization of spending per pupil. All other students would only be eligible for up to 90 percent of that amount.
A sister bill, S1555, was recently introduced in the New Jersey Senate and is being reviewed by the Senate Education Committee.
Education Savings Accounts are an excellent way to expand access to school choice for New Jersey families.