Un⁠i⁠versal vs. Income-Based ESAs

April 3, 2023

April 3, 2023

Every family deserves the best education for their children, regardless of their income. That’s why the idea of education savings accounts (ESAs) has become increasingly popular across the country.

According to polling data:

  • 70% of families in Florida support ESAs.
  • 60% of families in Texas support universal ESAs.
  • 59% of families in Wyoming support universal ESAs.

ESAs allow families to direct funding to pay for educational expenses like tuition, textbooks, and tutoring. But not all ESAs are created equal. While some policymakers have proposed income-targeted ESAs, research shows that families overwhelmingly prefer universal ESAs.

Universal ESAs, which are available to all families regardless of income, offer several advantages over income-targeted ESAs. Most importantly, they level the playing field so that every family, regardless of their income, can find the best education that suits their child’s unique needs. Secondly, because there is no bureaucratic income verification process, they are substantially easy to administer—less hassle for administrators and less hassle for families. Additionally, income-targeted ESAs can’t keep up with how quickly things change in families’ lives. If things change for families, things change for kids. ESAs need to be universal if they’re going to keep up with the real lives of students and families.

On the other hand, income-targeted ESAs can be more complicated to administer, which can lead to fewer families being able to participate. In addition to these administrative difficulties, these programs can be stigmatizing for families who qualify based on their income, which can lead to fewer families participating even if they are eligible. This can reinforce the already unequal playing field, where some families have access to more educational opportunities than others. A child’s education shouldn’t depend on their family’s income, and it doesn’t have to.

At the end of the day, universal ESAs are a more empowering and equitable solution for families. They provide every family with the opportunity to access the educational options that best fit their children’s needs and goals, regardless of their income. By supporting universal ESAs, we can create a brighter future for every child and ensure that all families have the power to choose the education that’s right for them.

At yes. every kid., we firmly believe in advocating for policies that fund families and widen educational opportunities for all students. We are hopeful to explore and discover new ways to do this, and universal ESAs are just one tool in the toolbox to transform education.