How to Apply

  • At the time of application, schools must declare the number of student seats in each grade level that will be available for students using an ESA for tuition and other expenses. Schools may later add seats to those declared on the application, but schools cannot reduce seats once the application is approved and during the first open enrollment window. Understanding that schools and eligible students must be a good fit for one another, the approved school is not obligated to fill all seats it declares for annual capacity.
  • The school application also requires schools to demonstrate financial viability to repay any funds that may be owed to the state. The school may comply with this requirement by filing a surety bond payable to the state from a surety or providing a cash balance sheet that reflects a cash balance equal to or greater than the value of all ESA accounts accepted by the school. The bond value should be equal to the number of seats declared times the approximate base amount of the ESA ($7,000).
  • As part of the application process, the school must also submit links or uploads of the school’s academic calendar, admission policy, tuition and fees schedule, and parent and student handbooks.

If you are applying to become a participating school in the ESA program and require TTY or enhanced communication assistance for deafblind users, please dial 1-800-848-0298 and request connection with FACTS TN ESA Helpline at855-828-0754. (new paragraph) If you have other special needs that cannot be accommodated by the online platform or TTY, to complete the application, please phone the call center with your contact information and a member of the department will return your call the next business day.

After You Apply

The department will review the submitted application and all supporting documentation and notify the school principal via email as to whether or not the school is approved to participate in the ESA program.

If the department approves the school’s application to participate in the ESA program, the department will include the school on the list of participating schools for that school year.

If the department does not approve the school’s application to participate, the department will include in the email an explanation of why the school was not approved.

The review process may take up to 14 business days.

Appealing Denied Applications

If the school’s application is denied, the school principal or board chair may appeal the decision by following the two-step appeals process in accordance with SBE Chapter 0520-01-16-11:

Step 1:

  • Submit the appeal to the Department of Education within 10 business days of receipt of the notice of application denial, suspension, termination, and/or removal. (Notice of application denial, suspension, termination, and/or removal will be provided electronically.)
  • The commissioner or the commissioner’s designee will review the appeal. A decision will be issued within 45 calendar days. (The participating school will be notified of the commissioner’s decision for the Step 1 appeal electronically. Such notice will be deemed received three business days after the date of postmark.)
  • To file a Step 1 appeal, complete the Step 1 appeal form.

Step 2:

  • An appeal of the commissioner’s decision in Step 1 must be filed with the commissioner by the participating school within 30 calendar days and shall conform to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) (T.C.A. Title 4, Chapter 5).
  • To file a UAPA appeal, complete the UAPA form. After the UAPA form has been submitted to the Department, the participating school’s principal will be notified by an administrative law judge, who will set the date and time of the participating school’s hearing.

Have further questions?

How to Apply

  • At the time of application, schools must declare the number of student seats in each grade level that will be available for students using an ESA for tuition and other expenses. Schools may later add seats to those declared on the application, but schools cannot reduce seats once the application is approved and during the first open enrollment window. Understanding that schools and eligible students must be a good fit for one another, the approved school is not obligated to fill all seats it declares for annual capacity.
  • The school application also requires schools to demonstrate financial viability to repay any funds that may be owed to the state. The school may comply with this requirement by filing a surety bond payable to the state from a surety or providing a cash balance sheet that reflects a cash balance equal to or greater than the value of all ESA accounts accepted by the school. The bond value should be equal to the number of seats declared times the approximate base amount of the ESA ($7,000).
  • As part of the application process, the school must also submit links or uploads of the school’s academic calendar, admission policy, tuition and fees schedule, and parent and student handbooks.

If you are applying to become a participating school in the ESA program and require TTY or enhanced communication assistance for deafblind users, please dial 1-800-848-0298 and request connection with FACTS TN ESA Helpline at855-828-0754. (new paragraph) If you have other special needs that cannot be accommodated by the online platform or TTY, to complete the application, please phone the call center with your contact information and a member of the department will return your call the next business day.

After You Apply

The department will review the submitted application and all supporting documentation and notify the school principal via email as to whether or not the school is approved to participate in the ESA program.

If the department approves the school’s application to participate in the ESA program, the department will include the school on the list of participating schools for that school year.

If the department does not approve the school’s application to participate, the department will include in the email an explanation of why the school was not approved.

The review process may take up to 14 business days.

Appealing Denied Applications

If the school’s application is denied, the school principal or board chair may appeal the decision by following the two-step appeals process in accordance with SBE Chapter 0520-01-16-11:

Step 1:

  • Submit the appeal to the Department of Education within 10 business days of receipt of the notice of application denial, suspension, termination, and/or removal. (Notice of application denial, suspension, termination, and/or removal will be provided electronically.)
  • The commissioner or the commissioner’s designee will review the appeal. A decision will be issued within 45 calendar days. (The participating school will be notified of the commissioner’s decision for the Step 1 appeal electronically.Such notice will be deemed received three business days after the date of postmark.)
  • To file a Step 1 appeal, complete the Step 1 appeal form.

Step 2:

  • An appeal of the commissioner’s decision in Step 1 must be filed with the commissioner by the participating school within 30 calendar days and shall conform to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) (T.C.A. Title 4, Chapter 5).
  • To file a UAPA appeal, complete the UAPA form. After the UAPA form has been submitted to the Department, the participating school’s principal will be notified by an administrative law judge, who will set the date and time of the participating school’s hearing.

Have further questions?