In March 2023, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law Senate Bill 294, also known as the LEARNS Act, making Arkansas one of six states to create a universal education savings account program that permits students to spend public monies on private education expenses. Starting this school year (2023-24), first-time kindergarteners, students attending “F” rated schools, those with disabilities, individuals in foster care or from active military families, and previous scholarship recipients can use public funds under the state’s Education Freedom Accounts. During the inaugural year, eligible expenses are limited to items such as tuition, fees, testing, uniforms, and school supplies. But by 2025-26, the program will be fully universal, enabling all Arkansas families to participate in the program and spend public dollars for an expanded range of educational purposes.
As outlined in the LEARNS Act, the Arkansas Department of Education is required to submit annual reports on the program’s implementation. After a delayed start to the program due to legal proceedings, families were eligible to apply for the saving accounts beginning June 19, 2023. The department’s initial report, released on September 30, 2023, details statistics from the program’s first quarter. We summarize them below.
–infographic complied by Bella DiMarco