MDE announces mid-year ESA lottery

The Mississippi Department of Education has announced a mid-year lottery for Education Scholarship Accounts.  The lottery will be held on December 13 and 41 ESA’s will be awarded for the 2018-19 school year that were forfeited by families who opted not to participate in the program.

The ESA program was established by the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act of 2015 and provides scholarships to parents of students with disabilities who want to remove their child from a public school to seek educational services elsewhere.

The Legislature provided funding for approximately 428 ESA accounts for the 2018-19 school year. Most ESAs this school year were issued to students returning from the 2017-18 school year.

All eligible applications received for the 2018-19 school year that have not yet been awarded will be included in the lottery. There are currently approximately 202 applications on the waiting list for 2018-19. The law requires the MDE to hold a lottery to award ESAs when the demand exceeds the supply.

Only complete, eligible applications received by December 11 will qualify for the lottery. Letters will be mailed to awardees on December 14. ESA recipients are eligible to be reimbursed up to $6,594 in 2018-19 for the cost of private educational services.

Parents who are accepted into the program will be reimbursed for expenses quarterly after submission of a reimbursement request with proper documentation of expenses incurred.  Funds can also be paid quarterly directly to an educational service provider if approved by the parent.

To participate in the ESA program:

  • the applicant must be a Mississippi resident;
  • the student must have had an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within five years of the date of application; and
  • the parent must sign an agreement to adhere to the rules of participation.