Many families followed the progress of the Education Freedom Account bills as they worked their way through the NH legislature earlier this year. Two near-identical versions were introduced in the NH House and Senate; ultimately the Senate’s version was incorporated into one of the budget bills, passed, and signed by Governor Sununu.
This article is a brief synopsis of the new EFA program that will go into effect in time for the 2021-22 school year.
- The EFA is a new, fourth way to satisfy education attendance requirements. Now the educational options for children who are “school aged” (six years old as of September 30th of the current school year) are 1) public education, which may be the local district schools or chartered public schools; 2) private education; 3) home education; or 4) enrollment in the Education Freedom Account program.
- Families who earn no more than 300% of the federal poverty limit may enroll children in the EFA program.
- It will allow the state adequacy funds, an average of $4,500, to follow the child to approved educational uses.
- The EFA may be used for a variety of purposes including private school tuition or other approved educational uses by approved educational providers.
- The EFA requires students to take some kind of annual assessment and submit results to the managing organization.
- Should the family wish to withdraw from the EFA program, the child may only exit to a public school.
- The EFA program will be managed by the Children’s Scholarship Fund NH; families should contact them if interested in enrolling or with questions. Educational providers should also contact them if they wish to be approved for the program.
It is very important to distinguish this new program as separate and distinct from traditional homeschooling. Home education follows the requirements in RSA 193-A and Ed 315 rules. Families do not receive taxpayer funds to support their children’s education and are free to access any resource and provider they wish. Homeschoolers keep annual assessment results private and should they wish to end their home ed program, the child may utilize any of NH’s other educational options.
We hope this brief explanation is helpful to families considering this new option.
By Michelle Levell