Education Savings Account (ESA) Program
Tennessee’s Education Savings Account (ESA) program is planned to launch for the 2020-21 school year in Davidson and Shelby counties. With the ESA program, eligible students assigned to schools in Davidson County, Shelby County, or the Achievement School District can use state and local Basic Education Program (BEP) funds toward expenses, such as tuition or fees, at participating private schools.
Public Chapter 506, which was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed by Governor Bill Lee in spring 2019, established the ESA program, providing additional education choices for students. Gov. Bill Lee, in his first State of the State address before a joint session of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly on March 4, 2019, said, “Low income students deserve the same opportunity as every other kid in this state, and we will need a bold plan that will help level the playing field. We need to challenge the status quo, increase competition, and not slow down until every student in Tennessee has access to a great education. We’re not going to get big results from our struggling schools by nibbling around the edges. That is why we need education savings accounts in Tennessee this year.”
Please be aware that there is a pending legal challenge to the ESA Program and the Davidson County Chancery Court has entered an order preventing the State from advancing the program. While the order remains in effect, the Department
may not take any further action on completed or pending applications. In addition, the application link has been disabled as of May 7, 2020, and calls or e-mails regarding the ESA Program cannot be answered or returned. The
Department is seeking reversal of the Court’s order and hopes to succeed on appeal to allow the Program to start enrollment this school year. Updated information will be provided on this site when it becomes available. In
the meantime, applicants to the ESA Program should consider the possibility that they will need alternate plans for school enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year.