How to offset private school tuition costs in Iowa

Searching for ways to fund your child’s private school education? Iowa offers different publicly funded School Choice programs that you can apply for.

Option #1

Iowa Education Savings Account (ESA) Program
Education Savings Account (ESA) Program

Participants in Iowa’s ESA program gained access to up to $7,635 of public education funds per child in a private school during the 2023-2024 school year. Funds in an ESA can be used to cover much more than just tuition, making it a flexible, effective option for Iowa families.

Option #2

Iowa tax credits and deductions
Tax Credits/Deductions

Offset additional educational costs (like uniforms, standardized test fees, and textbooks) with up to $250 dollars worth of tax rebates and deductions from the state of Iowa.

Comparing all Iowa School Choice offerings

Program Name Type Maximum Award  Eligible Expenses Average Yearly Tuition
Education Savings Account Program Education Savings Account (ESA) $7,413 Tuition, tutoring, credential, therapies, online learning, etc. $6,332
School Tuition Organization Tax Credit Tax-Credit Scholarship $1,465 Tuition $6,332
Tuition and Textbook Tax Credit Tax Credit/Deduction $134 Educational expenses, including tuition, textbooks, activity fees and lab fees $6,332

Education Savings Account (ESA) Program

If you’re interested in setting up an Education Savings Account to fund your child’s private school education, you’re probably searching for relevant details about the program. This mini-guide will help families successfully navigate Iowa’s ESA program.

To qualify, students must

  • Have a child who is switching to a private school from a public school or a child who is entering kindergarten.

    Students who are already attending a private school may also apply, but they must come from families with an annual income of less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • Provide proof of enrollment in other income-based assistance programs, like SNAP or childcare assistance (for existing Iowa residents)
  • Provide an out-of-state 2022 tax return or a recent pay stub from each parent/guardian and letter from each parent/guardian’s employer confirming their annual income (for new Iowa residents)
Woman reviewing and understanding Iowa ESA application

Families must submit a single application on a yearly basis—this application covers all school-aged children in the household. If you choose to submit your family’s application through the online automatic verification system, your account may be approved in as little as 30 minutes. You can find detailed ESA application information and relevant links on the Iowa State Government’s website.

Private school student studying with laptop and headphones

One of the central benefits of an ESA program (in comparison to a voucher program, for instance) is that the allocated funds in the account can be dedicated to tuition and other education-related expenses. This means that you can use public funds to pay for things like books, software, course materials, sensory items, educational services, therapies, and life skills education. 

Flexible, easy to access, and convenient, Iowa’s Educational Savings Account Program might just be a perfect fit for your family. 

Iowa Tax Credits/Deductions

Iowa citizens can report up to $250 worth of educational costs on their taxes to earn credits and deductions on their return. You can learn more about the School Tuition Organization Tax Credit here or learn more about the Tuition and Textbook Tax Credit here.

If your family’s educational costs exceed $250, consider setting up a RaiseRight program to help families further their expenses. Learn more here.

Save more on your child’s education with RaiseRight

Families that fundraise with RaiseRight know that it’s the easiest, most effective way to offset private school educational costs. Iowa's School Choice benefits are limited in covering expenses beyond tuition, so utilize RaiseRight to cover other school-related costs and relieve financial pressure.

Average Iowa yearly private school tuition

*Based on average spend for a household family of 4