Issue Toolkit:

Education Savings Accounts for Military Families

Background information

This legislation would allow parents of military-connected children to establish voluntary Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) to pay for a wide variety of qualified education services that work best for their children.

Families who serve in the armed forces move from duty station to duty station with little-to-no choice in where they live or what schools their children attend. This lack of choice is a national security issue because recruiting and retaining talent in the military is vital to our military readiness.

According to a survey conducted by Military Times, 35 percent of active duty military families say that dissatisfaction with their children's education was a significant factor in their decision to remain or leave military service. By providing education choice through ESAs, we can serve military families and give the military a key tool to both attract and retain the skilled men and women in uniform that keep us safe.

As Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said, Congress has “an opportunity in that regard to empower them with some more of those choices.” An ESA, she continued, would afford military families “a much different dynamic and approach to be able to get their education in the way that best works for them.”

Men and women who serve our nation’s military have dedicated their lives to defending us. Congress has an opportunity right now to stand up against special interests and fight for our military families.

Key Talking Points

  • Strengthens national defense. A strong national defense requires retaining well-trained active duty personnel. According to a survey conducted by Military Times, 35 percent of active duty families say that dissatisfaction with their children’s education was a significant factor in their decision to remain in or leave military service. ESAs provide greater incentive to stay.

  • Expands educational choice. ESAs allow parents to customize their children’s education experiences. Qualified uses include private school tuition, tutoring services, online learning programs, educational therapies, textbooks, vocational programs, and more. Funds roll over year-to-year and can even go toward 529s and higher education until the pupil is 22 years of age.

  • Fiscally responsible. The Educations Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2019 (H.R. 1605 and S. 695) allows a portion of current Department of Education funding to be redirected to the parents of military-connected children. In this way, the money follows the child and goes towards resources that are tailored to his or her needs. Quarterly expense reports provide transparency and accountability.

  • Sets good precedent. H.R. 1605 and S. 695 set the right precedent when it comes to school choice. Positive effects on military families’ educational experience will pave the way for states to expand the reach of Education Savings Accounts to the general populace.

Call Notes

Hi, this is [NAME] from [CITY].

I am calling to ask [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to co-sponsor the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2019 (H.R. 1605 and S. 695). It honors the sacrifice that military families are already making by extending school choice options for their children.

Education choice for our military families is not only common sense policy, but it provides greater incentive for families to remain in the armed services. This maximizes our investment—training new recruits is costly and time consuming—and relieves the burden many families face when traveling from duty station to duty station.

A military Education Savings Account would allow an active duty parent to receive a portion of the funds already allocated to the Impact Aid Program, personally directing it towards whatever resources best suit his or her child whether that be private tutoring, online courses, or home schooling curriculum.

As you consider adding new policies in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), please consider including Rep. Banks’ Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act to help strengthen the military and better serve military families.

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Social Posts (remember to insert the social handle of your member)

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35% of active duty military families say that dissatisfaction with their children's education was a significant factor in their decision to remain or leave military service. #MilitaryESAs offer military parents school choice.

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With #MilitaryESAs, dollars would follow the student rather than the school. This flexibility would allow military families freedom to tailor their children’s education to best fit their learning needs and maximize academic achievement.

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Education choice for military families is not only common sense policy, but it provides greater incentive for families to remain in the armed services. #MilitaryESAs

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.@MEMBER supporting #MilitaryESAs will support our military families and strengthen national security.

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