SIOUX CITY, IOWA (KCAU) — The 2022-23 school year is coming to an end, but private schools in Sioux City are preparing for the wave of ‘Students First Education Savings Account’ applications for the upcoming school year.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed the ‘Students First Act’ into law early this year that makes state funding available for low-income families looking to place their children into private schooling. But there is an application process for ESA that both parents and school staff will have to learn how to navigate.

“It’s one application per family and we think we have a chunk of families, like 400 families that would be qualifying for this kind of aid,” Bishop Heelan’s Director of Enrollment Laurie Dougherty said.

Laurie Dougherty said school staff have been busy preparing a “kick-off” event for June 5 aimed at helping parents sign up for the state of Iowa educational savings account.

“This year all kindergarteners automatically qualify regardless of income and all of these people have to be Iowa families, so Iowa residents. All transfers from a public school to a private school automatically regardless of income. And then for families that are already in our system, existing families, they have to be at 300% above the federal poverty guidelines. So for example that’s a family of four has to make less than $90,000,” Dougherty explained.

Heelan’s tuition is increasing 24% for the next school year, rising from $7,980 to $9,900. Dougherty explains how much tuition is covered by ESA.

“We’re charging $2,300 above and beyond the ESA, for the first two children and then after that, just the ESA,” Dougherty said.

Faculty at Siouxland Christian School are also preparing for changes to its student body for the 2023-24 school year.

“I think we’ll definitely see growth. We’ve had a lot of interest since news of this has come out, mostly for families who wanted a Christian education for their family but just haven’t been able to afford it or make that step yet,” Siouxland Christian School President Katie Trimble said.

Trimble also expects parents will need help applying for the savings account program.

“Our director of IT has started to talk with our chief financial officer about making videos for families and walking them through visuals or having workshops where they can come in. We also open up our office all summer so families can come in and we can help answer any questions that they have.”

Applications for Iowa’s Education Savings Account are due by June 30. You can find more information by clicking here.