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How to use Arizona ESA for Homeschooling

How to use Arizona ESA for Homeschooling

Last updated: May 21, 2024

If you’re a resident of Arizona, and you have children in grades K-12, the state department of education will provide you between $4000 to $9000 per student per year to use for their education. This money is available for homeschool families.

The program is called the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account (AZ ESA) and is funded with state tax dollars. Since homeschool parents in AZ have been faithfully paying their taxes for many years, we see this as a way for AZ families to receive some of their own tax dollars back to use in homeschooling.

Compass Classroom is now a ClassWallet vendor with the AZ ESA, which means you can use your ESA funds to purchase our video courses, books, subscriptions, and online classes.

If you have already set up the AZ ESA for your kids, scroll down to the bottom of this article to learn exactly how to use the funds with Compass Classroom.

If, however, you aren’t sure how to access your funds, we will step you through the process. The following article explains:

If you’re already signed up with the ESA and know how to use it, just scroll down to the bottom section and learn how to use your ESA funds with Compass Classroom products.

We have tried to simplify and summarize the material available on the Arizona ESA site, but if you’d like to consult the actual site for additional questions, they have a useful FAQ at ESA Guidance. They also have a 2023-24 Parents Guide in PDF that is worth downloading.

What is the Arizona ESA?

Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) provides scholarship dollars to all Arizona families to help them pursue flexible options for their children’s learning. This includes families who homeschool their children.

ESAs are accounts funded by state tax dollars. The money that would pay for that student’s education in a neighborhood school instead follows that student to whichever school the parents choose for their child, including education at home.

The state’s website explains: “An ESA consists of 90% of the state funding that would have otherwise been allocated to the school district or charter school for the qualified student (does not include federal or local funding). By accepting an ESA, the student’s parent or guardian is signing a contract agreeing to provide an education that includes at least the following subjects: reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science.  ESA funding can be used to pay private school tuition, for curriculum, home education, tutoring and more.”

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How much money comes in an ESA?

The latest numbers currently available are approximations for the 2022-23 school year. These are $6000 to $9000 per student in grades 1st – 12th, and $4000 to $5000 per preschool or kindergarten student. Children with disabilities, however, are awarded significantly more money.

Download the full chart for specifics.

Why the wide range? Apparently different districts and charter schools are assigned different amounts based on their location in Arizona. As a result, a parent must first apply for an ESA for their student, then wait approximately three weeks to find out how much money the state will place in the account.

Please note, the state pays the funds into accounts on a quarterly schedule. For instance, if you’re awarded $8000, then the account will receive $2000 each quarter.

What happens to funds that aren’t spent?  ESA Guidance explains, “While a portion of funding must be spent each year, any remaining funds remain in the account and roll over to the next year.”  This is great news, since it means you can save some money for larger expenses, if necessary.

How much needs to be spent each year?

Furthermore, ESA funds are not considered taxable income. This is important to remember when tax seasons comes around.

It’s important to realize, however, that ESA funds are not money that a parent can directly withdraw and use to pay for education. Instead, parents must use a special online company called “ClassWallet” that acts as an intermediary to pay vendors or provide reimbursements to parents. We will explain more about that below after first talking about what you can pay for with an ESA.

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What can I pay for with an ESA?

There is wide latitude for using the funds placed in an ESA. Acceptable educational expenses include:

  • Curriculum books and videos.
  • Tuition for co-ops, tutorials, and online classes.
  • Tutors
  • Computer equipment
  • Supplemental Materials

What is meant by “supplemental materials?” There are two types: materials that do not require documentation, and materials that do require it. We will mention both, since the latter that do require documentation will be quite useful to homeschool parents.

According to the official documentation, “All reasonable education-related expenses will be allowed. The below list is considered educational and does not require any documentation, to be purchased. Please keep in mind that each student’s ESA account is funded for the individual student’s education. This list is not exhaustive but is intended to provide examples of what is allowable without documentation.”

  • Books (including audio, digital, players) / Coloring books / Magazines
  • Educational workbooks / Planners / Calendars
  • Dictionaries / Thesaurus
  • Educational flash cards / Prompt cue cards
  • Periodic tables
  • Writing utensils (pens, markers, pencils, highlighters, crayons, chalk)
  • Art supplies/kits – Education based
  • School supplies (index cards, poster boards, paper, folders, binders, notebooks, staplers,scissors, tape, glue, eraser, white out, sharpener, educational poster, small desk/readinglamps, pencil grips, bookmarks, envelopes, rubber bands, dividers, hole punch)
  • Backpack / Lunch bags
  • Atlases / Maps / Globes
  • STEM Kits/Items (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics)
  • STEAM Kits/Items (Science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics)
  • Educational kits
  • Manipulatives: items that help with counting, time, measurement, shapes, addition, etc.(math cubes, Legos, dominoes, blocks, shapes, etc.)
  • Calculators (standard, graphing, scientific, etc.)
  • Compass / Navigation / Protractors / Rulers
  • Educational DVDs and CDs
  • Audio / Visual players
  • Physical Education – Sporting items / Gym memberships
  • Microscopes / Telescopes
  • Board games / Strategy games / Puzzles
  • Timers / Clocks / Watches
  • Dry erase boards / Easels
  • Bulletin board and accessories
  • Single tickets for educational events (zoos, science or art centers, museums, plays,ballet, orchestra, musicals, etc.)
  • Educational subscriptions
  • Educational software & apps
  • School Desk (Reasonable and proportionate to qualified student’s size)
  • School Chair (Reasonable and proportionate to qualified student’s size)
  • Small bookshelf
  • Desk organizer / Small file drawer
  • School Mat / Rug
  • Printing and binding services (for educational items for qualified student)
  • Personal-sized laminators and supplies
  • Computer Accessory Items (warranty, protective cases, chargers, mouse, stylus, keyboard, small speakers, etc.)

As for those things that require documentation, these are items which are not obviously educational but which can be used for education within a particular context. When properly employed (as a homeschool parent understands), this can extend to many things within a homeschool environment.

Download the full chart with allowable expenses for ESA Students

The good news is that everything Compass Classroom offers, from video courses to textbooks to subscriptions to live classes, are covered under the Arizona ESA.

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How Do I Sign Up for an ESA?

Arizona uses an online program called Classwallet to manage its funds for student accounts. You will need to complete the following steps to access ESA funds:

  1. Create an Account.
  2. Apply to the Empowerment Scholarship Program. Wait up to 3 weeks for the account to be funded.
  3. Use ClassWallet to purchase the educational materials you need.

Follow these steps to apply for your ESA. You will need the following to apply:

  1. Student’s birth certificate
  2. Document that proves your Arizona residency Such as property tax bills, W-2 tax forms, and utility bills.)

Step 1: Create an Account

Click this button to setup your account. It is through a program called ADEConnect (Arizona Department of Education Connect)

Click link to Setup Account.

Fill out the requested information and click “REGISTER” at the bottom of the screen.

You will be sent an email with directions on setting your password. Click on that email. (Check your spam folder if you don’t see it. The email is coming from “ADEConnect”)

Once you have setup your password, you will receive another email confirming your account is active. (Note that this step may take up to 15 minutes to activateOne.)

Step 2: Apply for the Empowerment Scholarship Program

You can now go back to the site and login to apply for the scholarship program.

Login to AZ ESA Portal

Click the green button labeled “Yes – Take me to the Login screen.” (Use the new login and password you created in the prior step.)

You can follow the steps written out here, or watch the video below that includes the same information but also shows the process with the accompanying screens.

  1. Once you login for the first time, click on the button to Accept the Terms.
  2. Next, click “View Applications.”
  3. Then click “ESA Applicant Portal” link. This will take you to a form that requires your personal information.
  4. Click the Home button.
  5. A green button will appear labeled “Create a New Application.” Once that gets submitted, it may take up to 30 days for the AZ Dept. of Education to process the application.
  6. You will receive an approval or denial of your application through email. (Make sure you check any spam folders, just in case!)
  7. If approved, your letter will let you know how much your award and quarterly amount will be. After the acceptance email, you will also receive a contract to sign to complete the application process.

Here is the video prepared by Arizona’s Department of Education to explain the process.

Watch a mom go through the entire process of signing up.

How Do I Use my ESA with ClassWallet?

As we explained above. ClassWallet is the financial management platform for the AZ ESA program. It’s run by a different company that provides educational services to many different states.

If you have multiple children, and you’re registered each of them, you can switch between them within ClassWallet by

Here is the link to login ClassWallet (it’s the same link you applied for an ESA):

Login to AZ ESA Portal

Once logged in, select the blue button that reads Go to ClassWallet Account. The link will take you directly to the ClassWallet dashboard. (We have provided a short video below that shows you what the dashboard looks like, but first it’s helpful to know how you can use your funds.)

There are three ways to use your ESA funds via ClassWallet:

  1. ClassWallet Marketplace: This is an online marketplace for purchasing items with a limited number of approved vendors. This is basically an ecommerce store built into the ClassWallet system. (Note: Compass Classroom is not yet in the Marketplace). Here is a link to a YouTube video that explains this process.
  2. ClassWallet Direct Pay Vendors: (Note: Compass Classroom is a Direct Pay Vendor) These are companies which are registered with the AZ ESA system and so can be paid directly with your ESA funds. You do this by going to the vendor’s website, adding the products you want to your cart, then taking a screenshot of the cart or getting an ESA approved invoice from that company (We show exactly how to do this in the next step below).
  3. ClassWallet Reimbursements: This is for use with companies who are not registered with the AZ ESA. You can link your bank account to the ClassWallet site, then make a purchase using your own money. You then upload the paid invoices to the ClassWallet site, they review them, then reimburse you via your bank account.

Homeschool parents should learn how to use all three methods, since homeschooling often requires different approaches for each child.

Here’s a short video that shows what the Dashboard looks like.

How do I use ClassWallet to purchase Compass Classroom products?

Compass Classroom is a registered vendor with the AZ ESA, so you can use the “Pay Vendor” button on your dashboard to easily pay for our products. You can purchase anything we sell with the Arizona ESA, you just need to follow these steps.

  1. Shop on Compass Classroom for all the products you want, then add all of them to your cart.
  2. View Cart, then start the checkout process.
  3. If you are a returning customer, click the button to login. Otherwise, fill out your name and shipping address.
  4. You will next see a button you can click that reads “This is an ESA Order”. You can click on this to add in your student’s name and information.
  5. Under the payment section, instead of putting in your credit card info, click on the button that reads “Pay by Check or ESA/ClassWallet” This will generate an automatic invoice that will be emailed to you which you can then use in the DirectPay system. Here’s what it looks like on our site:

You will receive an email invoice that also includes a PDF copy of the same invoice. Save this PDF invoice to your computer.

You will next need to log in to ClassWallet: Go to AZ ESA Portal, then select ClassWallet and go to the Dashboard.

  1. Click on Pay Vendor in the bottom right corner.
  2. Search for “Compass Classroom” in the list of Vendors, then select it.
  3. Upload the PDF receipt of your Compass Classroom order.
  4. Choose to pay with your available funds.
  5. Select the appropriate educational category.
  6. You can add optional comments, then review your order and submit it.

That’s it! We will receive notification that AZ ESA has paid for your products, we will match it to your invoice, then ship them directly to you. Please note that It could take up to a week for them to process your payment. Once we receive payment, however, we will ship immediately. If online courses were part of your order, access will be added to your Compass Classroom account when we receive notification that AZ ESA has paid. You will receive a welcom email from Compass Classroom for each course that you purchased.

Here’s a helpful video that shows how the process actually works:

What Can I Buy from Compass Classroom?

Compass Classroom has been developing video courses and curriculum materials for homeschool families since 2010. We provide comprehensive, self-guided, flexible courses in multiple subjects. Our goal is to make homeschooling easy for parents, enjoyable to students, and effective for learning.

We specialize in self-paced, user-guided video courses with accompanying textbooks and materials, as well as online teacher guidance. We provide courses for upper elementary to high school, including the following subjects: History, Economics, Literature, Science, Latin, Vocabulary, Calculus, Philosophy, Music, Grammar, Writing.

To see everything we offer, you can click SHOP in the menu above, click the button either to see all our products, or to view our catalog.

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“History comes alive in this video curriculum.”

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Here are a list of useful links, email, and phone number for the Arizona ESA.

Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account Website

2023-24 Parents Guide PDF

ESA Guidance Website

Allowable expenses for ESA Students

Approximate* Annual ESA Funding 2022-2023 school year

Login to AZ ESA Portal

How to contact the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Program:

Do you have questions about Compass Classroom curriculum? Please Contact Us.

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