An Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) is an account administered by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and funded by state tax dollars to provide education options for qualified Arizona students.
An ESA consists of 90% of the state funding that would have otherwise been allocated to the school district or charter school for the qualified student (does not include federal or local funding). By accepting an ESA, the student's parent or guardian is signing a contract agreeing to provide an education that includes at least the following subjects: reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science. ESA funding can be used to pay private school tuition, for curriculum, home education, tutoring and more.
Can my student participate in the ESA Program and remain his/her public or charter school?
In almost all situations, students on ESA cannot be enrolled in a public school (this includes district, charter and public online programs). This is a violation of the ESA contract. Additionally, the student must be withdrawn from the public school at the time that the ESA contract is signed. If the state is paying for an ESA student's education at the same time as the student is receiving ESA funds, the state is distributing the student's education funding twice. You may be able to pay for certain public school programs utilizing your student's ESA funds, please contact us for more details.
How can I contact ESA staff?
Call our ESA Support Line at 602-364-1969 (Monday - Friday from 9am - 4pm) or reach us anytime via e-mail through the Help Desksystem.HelpDesk tickets are assigned to individual ESA team members daily.
Are there application deadlines?
ESA accepts applications online year-round and the scholarship amount awarded is divided into four quarterly disbursements.
Q1: July 1 - September 30
Q2: October 1 - December 31
Q3: January 1 - March 31
Q4: April 1 - June 30
The funding received is based on the quarter that the contract is signed.
For example, if you sign a contract at any point from July 1 - September 30, you'll receive Q1 funding. If you sign the contract from October 1 - December 31, you'll receive Q2 funding, etc.
What's the status of my application?
Applications can take up to 30 days to process (from the date a completed application is submitted) and the final determination is sent via email. During this process, we are unable to provide any indications if an application is going to be approved or denied. The best course of action while waiting is to regularly check your email for ESA correspondence. Be sure to check your spam/junk folder as well!
New to ESA?
The ESA Parent Handbook is a great place to start. We also have a helpful New ESA Parent Guide (see below)
New ESA Parent Guide
Dear ESA Parent,
Welcome! As your student gets started in the ESA program, we hope you will find the following information helpful.
Your student’s ClassWallet account will be set up and funded. ClassWallet is a third-party vendor and the ESA Program’s payment platform; it is how you will make purchases and spend your student’s ESA funds.
NOTE: It typically takes approximately 3 weeks after signing the ESA contract to set up and fund your student’s account in ClassWallet.
To access your student’s ClassWallet account, log into your ESA Applicant Portal. Once logged in, select the blue button that reads Go to ClassWallet Account. The link will take you directly to the ClassWallet portal, no additional sign-in is necessary! See link: Go to ClassWallet Account
Multiple Children with ESA Funds:
If you have multiple children receiving ESA funds, you can log in once and switch between your children’s accounts on the ClassWallet homepage.
In the upper right-hand corner, click on the “Welcome” drop-down menu. Select “Switch to user” and your participating children will be listed. See link: Switch User
NOTE: Please be mindful when submitting purchase requests, that you are selecting the correct student. You can view additional step-by-step instructions at Switch Child Accounts
Your student’s ESA funds can be used for more than just tuition or curriculum. You can purchase many educational items like reading books, textbooks, flashcards, educational games and more!
Effective February 8th, 2023, the Department has paused issuing any new debit cards.
After making a purchase with the debit card please upload your receipt! Your card will be deactivated after 20 transactions if receipts are not uploaded. A short video with step-by-step instructions is available at How to Use the ClassWallet Debit Card - YouTube
Using the ADE HelpDesk
The ADE HelpDesk is a way for you to easily communicate with any member of the ESA team. It is a self-service portal that allows you to simply submit and track your requests or questions. First-time users need to follow a one-time registration process.
What if I have financial support through the private school?
Pursuant to A.R.S.§15-2402(B)(3), students cannot receive a tuition tax credit scholarship from an STO while also receiving ESA funding. This is a contract violation and can result in termination. For further questions, please contact your STO for guidance.
Am I required to share my student's ESA Contract with our private school?
An ESA contract is an agreement between the applicant and the Arizona Department of Education, Empowerment Scholarship Account Program. What applicants choose to share with their private school or vendors is at their discretion. Additionally, ESA cannot provide any advice or guidance to families regarding private schools, programs or service providers.
How much can I expect to receive in ESA funds for my student?
ESA funds are distributed quarterly and funding begins the quarter that the ESA contract is signed. For example, an ESA contract that is signed at any point in Q1, will receive Q1 funding, a contract signed in Q2, will receive Q2 funding, etc.
Q1: July 1 - September 30
Q2: October 1 - December 31
Q3: January 1 - March 31
Q4: April 1 - June 30
NOTE: It does take approximately 3 weeks to set up and fund a new ESA account. See the ESA Parent Guide for more information.
Existing ESA accounts that are in good standing will have quarterly funds requested by the Department between the 15th and the 30th of the month each quarter. Keep in mind that it does take 5-7 business days after request for funds to be reflected in the account, therefore actual deposit dates can vary.
What happens to funds that aren't spent?
While a portion of funding must be spent each year, any remaining funds remain in the account and roll over to the next year.
Do I report ESA funds on my taxes?
Pursuant to state statute (A.R.S. § 15-2402), ESA funds received pursuant to this article do not constitute taxable income to the parent of the qualified student.
My student is already a student on ESA (non-disability), how can they qualify under a disability category?
Account Holders/parents with a student who qualifies for the ESA program under a section other than a student with a disability, but who believe their student may have a disability, should seek a special education evaluation to determine eligibility for special education under IDEA from their home district or an independent education evaluation obtained for ESA purposes, as per A.R.S. § 15-2403.
What should I do if a new evaluation from a public school district was obtained?
Please submit a HelpDesk ticket and attach the new FULL COPY of the evaluation. The signature page must have at least ONE district evaluator signature on the signature page.
What should I do if an independent education evaluation for ESA purposes was obtained?
You will need to submit a HelpDesk ticket and attach:
The FULL COPY of the independent educational evaluation.
A copy of the Qualified Examiner's license showing that it was current at the time of the evaluation. The license can be obtained from the board of examiner's website showing the Qualified Examiner's license number and expiration date.
I am registered and I still can't log in. I click "forgot password" and nothing happens.
The user ID is the e-mail address ESA has on file. If you changed this with ESA at any time, you must re-register. ESA does not have access to your password and cannot reset your password for you. If you are locked out of your account, please wait 15 minutes and try again.
I can log in, but now I don't know where to go.
ADE Connect is a web portal utilized by the Arizona Department of Education. You log into ADE Connect in order to access the ESA Portal. From there you can click "Go to ClassWallet" to enter the ClassWallet system.
I can log in, but I am getting a "server error". Is the website down?
This can be fixed by clearing out the website cookies or "browsing privately". For example, with Google Chrome, if you right click on the browser icon and select "New Incognito Window", this should help.
If you have tried everything and still can't access the ESA Applicant Portal, please email [email protected] with the following information, so that we can pass it on to our I.T. team for resolution.
Your phone number
Application ID (if applicable)
Email Address that you registered with
Specific error message you received. If you are able to, please include a screenshot of the error message.
For Zoho errors - Whether you have previously received a Zoho email
Are invioces required?
Detailed invoices are required for expenses such as tuition, tutoring and educational therapies. Square, PayPal, or Point of Sale receipts alone are not sufficient. Pages 8 and 38 of the ESA Parent Handbookgive guidance on invoices.
All transactions made with the prepaid debit card, must have a corresponding receipt uploaded in the quarter that the transaction occured. A step-by-step guide is available here.
I spent my own money before starting ESA. Can I be reimbursed? Yes, however, we cannotreimburse expenses that are made prior to the date the contract was signed.
There is an accidental charge on my account. What do I do?
If the card was used accidentally, you should try to see if the vendor or merchant can issue a refund. If that is not possible, funds can be repaid by personal check, cashier's check, or money order made out to the Arizona Department of Education. This can be delivered in person at the Arizona Department of Education building where the ESA office is located, or sent by postal mail. Certified mail (is not required) but does provide receipt that it was sent and received.
I didn't use any ESA funds this quarter. Do I need to do something?
If no funds are spent, you are required to attest that there were no funds used. This can be done by logging into your account and entering the ClassWallet portal. You will see a spot on the home page that instructs you to "click here" if there have been no expenses.
The Department of Education will approve any reasonable education-related expenses for students who are enrolled in the Empowerment Scholarship Account program. If an account holder is considering an expense that is not usually known as an educational expense, they will need to send documentation that shows proof of a course of study and a formal curriculum that includes the supplementary list, with that item on it. For further guidance, you can call the ESA office at 602-364-1969. The Department of Education reserves the right to final determination on the use of all ESA funds.
Did you receive a letter stating your expense was disallowed by statute?
This means the specific expense listed in your letter is disallowed by law and the account may be suspended until there is a resolution or funds are repaid.
If you are requested to repay funds:
The Department accepts repayment in the form of a personal check, cashier's check, or money order made out to the Arizona Department of Education. You can bring the check in-person to our office or mail it to us at: Arizona Department of Education, ESA Program, 1535 W. Jefferson St., Bin 41, Phoenix, AZ 85007
I would like to close my ESA account.
To close your student's account, log into the ESA portal and click the "Close account for this student" button next to the student name and follow the instructions. Please Note: An account that has been closed, cannot be reopened. To return to the program, you will need to reapply. Step-by-step closure instructions are available at Closing your student's ESA
My account was terminated. What can I do?
Following account termination, the parent has 30 days to: resolve the reason for the termination (provide documents, provide repayment, etc.) or appeal. Following the 30 days, if no action has been taken, the account will be closed.
My student is turning 18, or is in 12th grade this school year and is NOT ready to graduate. Does anything change?
Pursuant to A.R.S.§15-2402(4)(n), a student with a disability may be entitled to an education until the age of 22 if the student is not ready to graduate high school or obtain their GED. When a student is identified as being a student with a disability with ESA, and in the spring of their 12th grade cohort year, ESA will notify the parent via email. Parents will be instructed to log into the ESA Applicant Portal, click on the eligible student, and make the appropriate selection. Please see additional information in the ESA Parent Handbook.
My student is ready to graduate. Does anything change?
Once an ESA recipient graduates, they become "Exited". This means that they no longer receive additional disbursements but can continue to have access to the remaining funds. If the Account Holder would like access to the remaining funds, this requires signing an "Exited Contract". They will then have access to these funds for one year (the contract is renewed on an annual basis). Funds can be used toward additional allowable expenses, including Post Secondary Expenses (in state community college/university)
I'm a vendor or provider, how do I report ESA on my taxes?
The Department is unable to give guidance. Please seek advice from your personal Financial Advisor.
I'm a vendor or provider. How do I become a vendor in the ClassWallet system?
I’m a tutor/teaching service. What accreditation do I need to upload in Classwallet?
If you are invoicing as:
An individual, the Department needs a copy of your high school diploma (or higher degree) from a state, regional or national accrediting organization.
A facility/business, the Department needs a copy of your accreditation OR a completed attestation form that attests that every tutor that works for you has a high school diploma (or higher degree) from an accredited state, regional or national accrediting organization.