Seventeen states now offer education savings accounts to families with children in grades K-12. Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry signed the Louisiana Giving All True Opportunity to Rise (LA GATOR) Scholarship Program into law this week, giving eligible families in the Pelican State access to the flexible education scholarship accounts.

After signing a package of education bills, Governor Landry said, “Today, we fulfilled our promise to bring drastic reform to our education system and bring common sense back to our classrooms. A strong education system leads to a strong economy and a strong state.” 

The governor forcefully communicated his plans to empower parents through education freedom in his State of the State address earlier this year. He encouraged legislators to “put parents back in control and let the money follow the child” and declared, “Let us send a loud and clear message, that the parent is the most important voice in a child’s education.” 

The LA GATOR education savings account (ESA) program empowers parents to customize their child’s education. Parents can use state-funded ESAs for a variety of eligible education expenses, including school tuition and fees, textbooks and curricula, tutoring, educational therapies, and transportation. The accounts will help parents to find and fund the education options that best meet their child’s needs.

Eligibility for the LA GATOR program will expand over three phases. When the program launches in the 2025-2026 academic year, students are eligible if they are entering kindergarten, enrolled in a public school, enrolled in an approved nonpublic school with a Louisiana Scholarship Program voucher, or an approved nonpublic school with a household income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level.

When the LA GATOR program reaches its third phase, all K-12 students in Louisiana will be eligible to participate. Low-income families and students with special needs will receive preference.

Education savings accounts are an increasingly popular option across the country. According to EdChoice, “Almost half a million students (470,801) participate in an ESA or tax-credit ESA. Just five years ago, only 19,211 students were using an ESA.” Ten states are operating universal ESA programs, meaning that all families with K-12 students are eligible to participate. Like Lousiana’s program, a new ESA program created in Alabama will eventually expand to universal eligibility.

We applaud the leadership shown by Governor Landry, Louisiana state legislators, and State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley. Their focused and determined commitment to education freedom resulted in the creation of the LA GATOR program. Louisiana’s students and families will greatly benefit from the leverage and control over their children’s education that ESAs will provide.