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How to Use Utah ESA for Homeschooling

How to Use Utah ESA for Homeschooling

Last updated: May 27, 2024

If you’re a resident of Utah, and you have children in grades K-12, the state department of education awards scholarships up to $8000 per student per year to use for their education.

Here’s the big deal: this money is available for homeschool families. The program is called the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program (UFA) and is funded with state tax dollars. Since homeschool parents in UT have been faithfully paying their taxes for many years, we see this as a way for families to receive some of their own tax dollars back for use in homeschooling.

Although the application window has closed for the 2024-2025 year, the program is not first-come, first-served. ACE Scholarships, the non-profit that administers the UFA, maintains a waitlist of families who are eligible, but have not yet been awarded. At any time throughout the year that funds become available, they can award students from the waitlist.

Compass Classroom is now a ClassWallet vendor with the Utah Fits All (UFA) Scholarship, which means you can use your UFA ESA funds to purchase our video courses, books, subscriptions, and online classes.

If you have already been awarded the UFA 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 Utah ESA site, but if you’d like to consult the actual site for additional questions, they have useful FAQs at the UFA Program website. They also have a 2024-25 Family Handbook in PDF that is worth downloading.

What is the Utah ESA?

Utah’s Fits All Scholarship Program (UFA) provides a limited number of tax-free scholarship dollars to Utah 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: “Beginning in the 2024-25 school year, the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program will provide up to $8,000 to eligible K-12 students. The scholarship funds will be deposited in an education savings account (ESA) and accessed using a digital wallet. Funds can be used to pay for approved education services and materials, including private school tuition and fees, tutoring services, after school programs and summer camps, materials and curriculum costs, transportation, and more.”

The Family Handbook is clear about the freedom of parents to run their homeschools as they see fit: “As stated in the law, there is no additional authority to any state agency or LEA to regulate or control a private school, qualifying provider, or home school. Students receiving education from a home school have the freedom of choice in curriculum, resources, developmental planning, or any other aspect of the home school student’s education” (p.9).

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How much money comes in an ESA?

The UFA Scholarship Program will provide $8,000 per student for the 2024-25 school year. To be eligible for one of the 10,000 available scholarships, a student:

  • Must be a Utah resident in grades K-12
  • Cannot be enrolled in or attending a public school for the 2024-2025 school year
  • Cannot receive the Carson Smith Opportunity Scholarship in the same year

See pages 5-6 of the Family Handbook for specifics.

Why these requirements? There are a limited number of scholarships (10,000 for ’24-’25, more planned for next year). As of April 2024 when the application window closed, UFA has received applications for 26,140 students. The program is not first-come, first-served. All eligible applications have been placed in categories to determine a waitlist:

  1. Students whose family income is at the 200% Federal Poverty Level or less will be awarded scholarships first.
  2. Next, are students whose family’s income is between 200-555%. 
  3. Last, it is open to all Utah K-12 students regardless of family income.

The Federal Poverty Level guidelines are listed as follows on the UFA site:

2024 Federal Poverty Guidelines as used by Utah

Since the number of students eligible exceeds the number of scholarships, an organization named ACE Scholarships will be maintaining a waitlist of families who are eligible, but have not yet been awarded. At any time throughout the year that funds become available, we can award students from the waitlist, as long as they are disenrolled from the public school at the time they accept the funds.

If you did not receive a scholarship for the current year, you can apply again for 2025-2026. Waitlisted students who wish to apply again will need to verify their application information and are assigned a new lottery number.

This is how scholarship applications will be prioritized in 2025-2026 and going forward:

  1. An eligible student who used a scholarship account in the previous school year.
  2. An eligible student who did not use a scholarship account in the previous school year, with a family income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
  3. An eligible student who is a sibling of an eligible student.
  4. An eligible student who did not use a scholarship account in the previous school year with a family income between 200% and 555% of the federal poverty level.
  5. All other eligible students.

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?  The Family Handbook explains, “We encourage maximum use of every child’s scholarship funds, since there will be no option to roll funds over into the following school year.”  The good news is that as homeschool parents, you are likely spending your family budget wisely!

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:

  • Tuition and fees at private schools and online schools including technical colleges and universities
  • Tutoring or private lessons
  • Textbooks and curricula
  • Educational software and hardware
  • Services for students with disabilities
  • Expenses related to extracurricular activities
  • Basic Internet service

There is a lot of flexibility here, from textbooks and classes, to athletics, orchestra, music, drama, debate, 4-H, scouting, and robotics, to museum trips, zoo visits, historical sites, orchestra performances and historical reenactments.

In addition, there is a statement in the official documentation that funds can be used for “Any other expense for a good or service that a parent or scholarship student incurs in the education of the scholarship student.”

There is a handy list of suggestions and exclusions in Appendix A of the Family Handbook.

  • Tuition and fees at microschools, colleges or universities, private schools and online schools
  • Fees and instructional materials at a technical college
  • After-school or summer education programs
  • Tutoring or private lessons
  • Textbooks, curricula, or other instructional materials
  • Educational software and applications
  • Supplies or other equipment related to a scholarship student’s educational needs
  • Fees for many examinations
  • Computer hardware or other technological devices needed for education
  • Educational services for students with disabilities
  • Ride fees or fares to travel to a qualifying provider
  • Expenses related to extracurricular activities, field trips, education supplements, and other educational experiences.
  • Basic Internet service

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 Family Handbook with allowable expenses for ESA Students in Appendix A

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

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How Do I Sign Up for an ESA?

Open enrollment for the 2024-2025 UFA ESA closed on April 22, 2024. Award notifications were sent on May 3. All approved applications were either awarded or placed on a waiting list.

Funding accounts will be set up August 7, 2024 for all UFA award recipients.

The UFA Program will announce its open enrollment window each year. Timelines will be posted on the Utah Fits All Scholarship website. To stay up to date on the enrollment process and other information about the scholarship you can sign up for the UFA monthly newsletter or you can visit the website for current information.

Click link to join Mailing List

How Do I Use my ESA with ClassWallet?

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

Here is the link to login ClassWallet:

Login to UFA ESA Portal

All scholarship students will have a scholarship account created for them soon after they have been notified of their scholarship award. The scholarship student’s parent will receive an email that will welcome the student and parent to the UFA Scholarship Program. Families of scholarship students will be able to access ClassWallet through something called the ACE Access Portal. This means the parent needs only one username and password to log into ACE Access, then may simply click a link to seamlessly transition to ClassWallet.

While the account is established for an awarded student, it will have limited functions until the $8,000 award is actually deposited in the Classwallet account.

Once scholarship funds are deposited into ClassWallet, parents can view each student’s balance, upload invoices, initiate payments to approved providers, view previous purchases, request reimbursements and shop the digital marketplace using their student’s funds, and more. Separate accounts are created for all students, even students who reside in the same house. Families may switch easily between scholarship students while logged onto the platform.

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 UFA 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 UFA 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. It’s aimed at Arizona residents but yours will look very similar.

Here is a longer (23 min) webinar from the UFA program about using Classwallet as a parent.

The webinar above was followed by a Q&A session, which you can watch here.

How do I use ClassWallet to purchase Compass Classroom products?

Compass Classroom is a registered vendor with the UFA 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 Utah 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 with all the information about the products you need to purchase. This email needs to be saved as a PDF. (You can do this by opening the email, choosing to print, and then choosing to save as a PDF.)

You will next need to login to ClassWallet: Login to UFA ESA Portal

  1. Click on Pay Vendor in the bottom right.
  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.

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

That’s it! We will receive notification that UFA 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 UFA ESA has paid. You will receive a welcome email from Compass Classroom for each course that you purchased.

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

Utah Fits All Scholarship Program Website

2024-25 Family Handbook PDF

FAQ page for Families

Make an Expense Request

Next steps for awarded and waitlisted students

UFA Provider list

Login to UFA ESA Portal

Helpful “Lunch and Learn” (33 min) webinar from the UFA program:

How to contact the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program:

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

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