By Betsy Wiley, President & CEO, Institute for Quality Education

Indiana is a national leader in empowering parents to choose the right educational environment for their children.

Education reform advocates in Indiana have always been at the vanguard of school choice and positive change for Hoosier families and K-12 students. Over two decades, organizations such as the Institute for Quality Education, EdChoice, and others have successfully advocated for the adoption of charter schools (2001), school vouchers (2011), and now Education Scholarship Accounts, or ESAs.

The Indiana General Assembly created the Indiana Education Scholarship Account Program (INESA) in 2021 to provide Hoosier special-education students with access to the educational environments and services that best meet their unique – and often challenging – learning needs. This year, the legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 331 to (among other changes) improve the program by moving the student application deadline for this new program to September 1, 2022. This aligns with the school year and allows parents enough time to make important decisions regarding their child’s education.

Through its statutorily proscribed funding formula, the State of Indiana allocates a certain amount of funding for the education of each Hoosier student. The funding typically follows the child as parents choose among a variety of K-12 options including public, charter, non-public, virtual, and home-schooling options.

The new INESA program, administered through the Treasurer of State’s office, allows parents of special-needs students to use these funds to customize their child’s educational experience. Families who participate receive 90% of their state education dollars and all their child’s special-education dollars via a government-authorized scholarship account like a Health Savings Account (HSA) for educational needs.

Parents and guardians of participating students may spend dedicated scholarship money on approved educational programs, therapies, services, transportation, tuition, and fees at a participating non-public school, as well as other expenses related to their child’s education.

Eligibility for the INESA program is determined by income and limited to those Hoosier families with special-needs children and earning less than 300% of the federal free-and reduced lunch program, or about $150,000 annually for a family of four. This aligns the program’s financial eligibility with Indiana’s existing Choice Scholarship (or voucher) program, where it is estimated that more than 80% of Hoosier students can qualify.

Student applications for the INESA program will open later this month on June 27, 2022. The Treasurer’s Office has information on the INESA program available for families online at Once available, the student application form for the INESA program will be found here.

Until the application becomes available, parents of special needs students can research this new program online or contact the Indiana Treasurer of State’s office with questions and receive direct help determining which documents they will need to apply for the ESA program.

Every child deserves a quality education. Indiana policymakers have worked over the years to ensure that happens, and the INESA program is just the latest example of these important efforts.