A Parent’s Guide to Navigating Wyoming’s Education Savings Account (ESA) Program

Families in the Cowboy State will soon have more funding options when it comes to K-12 education! 

Wyoming has paved the way for educational empowerment with the passing of the Wyoming Education Savings Account Act. This revolutionary bill will create a private school choice program program called an education savings account (ESA) program. Launching in 2025, this program will provide eligible families the opportunity to receive ESAs amounting to up to $6,000 to fund private school tuition, homeschool expenses, and other personalized education expenses.

What is the Wyoming Education Savings Account Act?

The Wyoming Education Savings Account Act will be Wyoming’s first-ever ESA initiative, providing funding for K-12 education. Unlike regular scholarships, ESAs offer greater flexibility in utilizing the funds, as they can be applied to a wide range of educational expenses, including private school tuition, tutoring fees, college placement exams, after-school education programs, and more.

Under this new initiative, participating parents will receive up to $6,000 per year in an online account for their child’s education. This will enable families to use their ESA funds for eligible learning expenses of their choice. By providing this level of support, the program aims to make education more accessible and affordable for families across the state.

Wyoming is the second state to pass an education savings account law in 2024, placing it alongside 14 other states that have either an active or ongoing process of launching an education savings account program. 

Who is eligible to apply for Wyoming’s ESA?

Wyoming’s program will be open to pre-K-12 students from low-income families. Students whose family income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level (about $46,800 for a family of four) will receive up to $6,000. That means 21% of the state is eligible for the program!

Families who are currently homeschooling can choose to participate in the ESA program and continue to educate their children at home. While their daily schooling experience may not look much different than traditional homeschooling, it is important to note that they will need to meet some requirements not mandated for other homeschoolers in the state. No homeschooler is required to participate in the program; families can choose either way!

To be eligible, students must be at least 4 years-old by August 1 of the year in which an ESA application is submitted.

It’s good to note that students who participate in the ESA program, whether they choose a private school or homeschool, are mandated to take a standardized assessment, a nationally norm-referenced achievement test, or a nationally recognized aptitude assessment.

What are eligible expenses?

Wyoming’s new ESA can be used for at least 16 different uses! Some of these eligible expenses include:

  • Tuition and fees at a participating school
  • Tutoring services (as long as the tutoring is not provided by a student’s immediate family); 
  • Classes or extracurricular activities at a traditional public or public charter school; 
  • Textbooks and curriculum; 
  • Educational technology; 
  • School uniforms; fees for summer education programs and after-school education; 
  • Educational therapies like behavioral or speech-language therapy;
  • Costs for college admission tests and AP exams
  • Transportation costs to education service providers. 

A wide range of expenses are eligible under Wyoming’s ESA program, making it one of the most flexible in the country. Additionally, Wyoming’s ESA legislation states that the state superintendent has the authority to approve other educational expenses that do not strictly fit into one of the categories but fit within the spirit of the law.  

When does Wyoming’s new ESA program begin?

Wyoming’s ESA program will kick off for the 2025-2026 school year for eligible families! Applications will start being accepted no later than January 1, 2025. 

How will families apply for and use the ESA?

The state superintendent must establish guidelines for families to apply for an ESA and prove that their child is eligible. The guidelines include an online form that parents can submit and a list of certified providers.

As long as families remain eligible and do not withdraw from the ESA program, funds will be deposited quarterly into their ESA online account. 

Families may be permitted to receive a partial payment of tuition or fees early if the education service provider (such as a private school or public charter school) requires it before the school year starts. The amount would be deducted from their next quarterly ESA deposit. 

Wyoming’s ESA is quite flexible but does come with basic accountability requirements. For example, it requires parents who participate in the ESA program to ensure that their children are instructed in reading, writing, math, civics (including the study of the U.S. Constitution and Wyoming state constitution), history, literature, and science, at minimum. 

It’s good to note that families who withdraw from the ESA and enroll full-time in public schools should notify the superintendent, who may close the ESA.

As Wyoming’s new ESA program is set up, we expect to see more information soon. Stay tuned for updates! 

In the meantime, parents should…

As Wyoming’s new ESA program is still under development, there may be updates flowing in before its official launch. To be well-prepared for the launch of any Education Savings Account (ESA), there are a few key things that you should consider. 

Before starting any application, parents should: 

  • Check out the list of participating schools and providers, evaluate whether they would meet their children’s needs, and inquire whether schools or providers have any availability. (This list will launch shortly before the application window opens)
  • Familiarize yourself with the eligibility criteria. Ensure that you meet all requirements, including residency, age of the beneficiary, and income restrictions.
  • Estimate your child’s future education expenses, taking into account factors such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, and other related costs. 
  • Keep yourself informed about any updates or announcements regarding the launch of the state ESA program. Subscribe to newsletters, follow relevant government agencies or organizations on social media, and regularly check official websites for updates.
  • Gather any necessary documentation required to open an ESA, such as proof of residency, identification documents, and social security numbers for both you and your children.

Other school choice options in Wyoming

In addition to the ESA program, Wyoming families have a range of educational choices, including traditional public schools, private schools, online learning, homeschooling, microschooling and mix-and-match learning. Charter school is another option for families located in Riverton, Laramie, Chugwater, and Cheyenne. 

Learn more

Wyoming has become the fifteenth state to pass an education savings account. Across the country, more than 90,000 students use ESAs to customize their learning. While Wyoming’s program shares some of the features and flexibility of other states’ programs, it also has unique features of its own! Other states that expanded choice programs in 2023 include Iowa, Florida, Utah, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, and South Carolina.

As Wyoming’s new ESA program is set up, we expect to see more information soon. Stay tuned for further updates! For now, families can visit families can check out Wyoming’s ESA Information Hub for more information on participation requirements, qualifications, updates, and more.

To learn more, families can visit the Wyoming State Department of Education and Private School Review: Wyoming.