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Educational Savings Account Application Information

  • ESA Application Information
    Parent/Guardian Timeline
    • May 31, 2023 Parent/Guardian applications open
    • June 30, 2023 Parent/Guardian applications close
    • May, June, July Verification (automated and manual)
    • July 15, 2023 First day for approved ESAs to be funded (or 30 days after application approval)
    A. Parent/Guardian Application
    1. Parents/guardians will log-in using the Odyssey portal and create an application account. The initial page of the log-in screen requires the parent to agree to a disclaimer. (“By signing up, I understand that Odyssey needs to gather and share information about each child for which I seek an ESA and for each claim I make against my child’s ESA. I give my consent to Odyssey to gather and share information necessary to implement my child’s participation in the ESA program, including with the Iowa Department of Education, and with the accredited nonpublic schools and providers serving my child. I understand my child will not be able to participate in the Students First Act ESA program if I refuse to grant my consent to Odyssey to gather and share necessary information.
    2. The parent/guardian will be asked to supply parent/guardian information (parent/guardian legal name, email address, phone number, preferred language).
    3. The parent/guardian will be asked to supply address information (current residential address). If your 2022 Iowa State Tax Return lists a different address, the parent will have to check a box and input the new address.
    4. The parent/guardian will be asked to add household information (adding a student)
    B. Student Application
    1. The parent/guardian will be asked to submit the student’s legal name, date of birth, student address, and school information for the 2022-2023 school year (last school year, not the new school year).
    2. The school attendance information for the 2022-2023 school year will be used to determine if the student attended an Iowa accredited nonpublic school in the 2022-2023 school year for any grade between kindergarten and 12. Isaac Newton Christian Academy is an accredited nonpublic school.
    C. Program Eligibility
    1. The parent/guardian will be asked to provide their ID type (typically a social security number) and Parent Identification Number. This must be provided for the parent and the parent’s spouse.
    2. This information will be used to verify Iowa residency, and in some cases verify income with the Iowa Department of Revenue.
    D. Consent and Approvals
    1. The application will ask for Guardian checks (verifying that the person has the legal authority to request an education savings account for the student(s) in the application. 
    2. The application will ask for Site Release (giving permission for the State of Iowa and Odyssey to share information to verify the application information).
    3. The application will ask for communication consent (giving permission to receive text communications, email communications, and phone call communications).
    E. Parent Acknowledgements
    1. The parent/guardian will be asked to review several statements and check boxes to affirm understanding of the agreement.
    a. Affirm the information provided is true and correct.
    b. Affirm that it is understood that the parent must follow Iowa Code governing the Students First Act and any applicable laws
    c. Affirm that it is understood that students participating in an educational savings account are required to take all applicable student assessments (Iowa Assessments), which may or may not be provided directly by the school and for which results are required to be submitted to the Iowa Department of Education).
    d. Affirm that it is understood that the agreement is binding for as long as the parent participates in the program and applies to any information given or benefit received. 
    e. The parent will be asked to sign electronically and click “submit application” when completed. 
    F. Application Status
    1. The majority of applicants will be approved through an automatic approval process. This process is an attempt to make approvals simple, straightforward and easy for parents.
    There are two application statuses:
    a. Final (submitted, approved, or ineligible)
    i. When a student’s eligibility for the ESA has been approved, the status button
    will update to “approved.” The parent/guardian’s next step is to select the
    school each student plans to attend for the 2023-2024 school year (available
    July 15).
    b. In Process (Additional documentation required, or under manual review)
    i. Manual Review: If eligibility is unable to be confirmed through the automated process, the Odyssey platform will prompt the parent/guardian to upload additional documents. Once additional documents have been uploaded, the Odyssey team will manually review the information. If additional documentation is required, Odyssey will contact the parent/guardian.
    G. Application Status Timing
    1. The application is updated with responses within 30 minutes of submission.
    2. Income verification will only be run for households with students who attended an Iowa accredited nonpublic school in 2022-2023.
    H. 2023-2024 School Information
    1. When the school information portion of the application becomes available (July 15), the parent/guardian will need to select the school and grade for each eligible student.
    2. Click “complete” to finish.
    I. How Odyssey Verifies Eligibility
    1. Iowa Department of System Connection: Odyssey works with the Iowa Department of Revenue to automatically determine Iowa residency, and in some cases, income eligibility, through each applicant’s 2022 Iowa State Tax Return. This will verify a majority of applicants.
    2. If Additional Verification is Needed: If the automated check fails, the Odyssey system will request a parent/guardian to upload additional verification documents to show Iowa residency and/or income eligibility.
    a. If Additional Residency Verification is Needed: If the automated check for residency is unsuccessful, the Odyssey system will request the parent/guardian to upload additional verification documents.
    Examples of Residency Verification Documentation: Current Iowa Driver’s License, Proof of Residence (current mortgage, lease, utility bill) and one of the following:

    i. Iowa Voter Registration Card
    ii. Claim of Homestead Credit or Military Tax Exemption on a home in Iowa
    iii. Active checking or savings account with an Iowa address
    iv. Other documents and correspondence initiated during tax periods with an Iowa address.
    Written and signed narrative from parent/guardian including a stated claim of Iowa residency, and related documentation reflecting residency may also be accepted as residency verification.

    b. If additional Income Verification is Needed: If the automated check for income is
    unsuccessful, the Odyssey system will request the parent/guardian to upload additional
    verification documents.
    Examples of Additional Verification Documentation: Proof of enrollment in an Iowa
    program that has an income eligibility component below the income threshold. Eligible
    programs include SNAP, childcare assistance, or cash assistance. Documentation
    includes Notice of Decision from Iowa HHS or image of SNAP card with matching parent

    New Iowa Residents: Accepted documents include a 2022 tax return from another
    state, the most recent pay stub for both parents/guardians and a letter from each
    employer verifying annual income for the employee.
    Written and signed narratives from the parent/guardian including a stated claim of net
    income and household size, and related documentation proving net income and/or
    household size may be accepted.