Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Sarah McCubbin
In 2022, the Ohio Department of Education officially launched the Ohio ACE program to help families who are under 400% of the Federal Poverty level qualify for an educational savings account of $1000 per year for school aged children (ages 6-18). It has been approved all the way through 2024.
It is essentially a flexible educational scholarship. The ACEOhio website says this about the program:
“The Ohio Afterschool Child Enrichment (ACE) educational savings account program provides funds for students and families to use on various enrichment and educational activities, including tutoring, day camps, music lessons, study skills services and field trips.“ACEOhio.org
(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links we may receive a commission.)
Table of Contents
What can be paid for through the Ohio ACE program?
Specifically, this program is designed to pay for:
- Day Camps (Not overnight camps)
- Music Lessons
- Study Skills Services
- Field Trips
- Curriculum (for homeschoolers only)
ACEOhio works with businesses who register to be on their Marketplace as approved providers. Families may choose to use one of the approved providers. But, they may also choose to use another provider. For most of the programs, a family will pay for the program or curriculum up front and submit a receipt that is reimbursed in 6-8 weeks.
Receipts and Invoices should have:
- The Child’s name on it (when possible)
- Date it was paid for and the date of program
I know that when I used the program for the first time, I was really nervous that I would do something wrong and mess it up…and not get reimbursed. In submitting my receipts, I didn’t get those 2 things above completely correct. But, I was still reimbursed without issue.
ACE Ohio is excellent at responding to individual questions at [email protected]. While I was trying to figure out the correct way to submit a receipt for a non-registered provider, they went back with me multiple times a day answering my questions.
Our family has used it to pay for:
- Classes & day camps at the Akron Fossil Science Center
- Curriculum From Rainbow Resources
- Curriculum from Home Science Tools
- A membership at McKinnley Museum
- Curriculum from CTC math
- and more!
3 Favorite School Supplies!!
Ok…who am I fooling..I can’t pick 3. But these gadgets have been some of my favorites over the past 16 years!!
Laminators have come way down in price! These are such a great to make a project looked finished and they last forever!
Is the ACE Ohio program invasive of my privacy?
In order to qualify for the Ohio ACE program, you will have to fill out some forms and submit income verification documentation. You can find the application information here. This is always the case if you are qualifying based on income. However, once you are qualified, the program is less invasive than pretty much any other one I’ve used.
We were foster parents for 8 years in Ohio, which pretty much stripped all privacy and was completely invasive wanting to know ALL the things in order to ensure we were a safe place for children. So…compared to that, and other educational programs we have used (Jon Peterson Scholarship & Ed Choice Expansion), this one is really minimal. There is no testing requirement and documentation of your activities is not being reported to the schools.
Not all homeschool groups feel that using ACE Ohio is a good move for homeschool freedom. CHEO wrote an article explaining the reasons why they believe homeschoolers should not participate.
How Do I Sign Up for the ACE Ohio program?
According to ACE Ohio, there are 3 steps to getting signed up.
- Sign up for an OH ID account. (This is the portal where all education dollars are dispersed in Ohio. So if you have a child taking CCP college classes, using the Jon Peterson or any other program, its the same portal) A PDF explaining the step by step is HERE.
- Sign up with Merit after you are approved for the ACEOhio program. Merit is the contracted provider who handles the claims made for your account.
- Spend your $1000 per child on Qualified Service Providers. It is possible to use the money at providers that are not listed but there are additional steps in the reimbursement process.
How Can Ohio ACE help homeschoolers specifically?
The Ohio ACE program is specifically designed to help families homeschooling in Ohio by allowing them to spend their savings account dollars on curriculum. Non-homeschooled children cannot buy curricula with their education funds. I am in the process of testing this out for myself. I recently submitted a claim for a purchase from Christianbook.com for one of my children. Right now Christianbook.com is not a listed provider, so I’m not completely confident of how this will end up. I’ll be sure to update this post once it has been processed all the way through.
What are the other education programs in Ohio that can be used for students in public, private, or homeschool situations?
- College Credit Plus (can be used for public, private and homeschooled students)
- Homeschool Tax Credit ($250 tax credit off your Ohio taxes) This does require submitting receipts as verification of funds spent.
- Ed Choice – Ohio School Choice option that gives scholarships to the majority of students in Ohio unless their family income is over a high threshhold. Scholarships are a flat dollar amount and families are responsible for the difference in tuition.
- Ed Choice Expansion -Ohio School Choice option that gives scholarships to students based on family income below 200% of the poverty level to enroll in private schools. Scholarships are a flat dollar amount and the school is responsible for the difference in tuition through their own in-house scholarship programs.
- Jon Peterson Scholarship – scholarship for private and homeschool students with an IEP to access services from independent providers and public & private schools.
- Autism Scholarship – scholarship for private and homeschool students with an IEP and autism diagnosis to access services from independent providers and public & private schools
- Cleveland Scholarship – this scholarship is specifically for students in the Cleveland School District and allows them to attend over 40 private schools in the area.
Ohio ACE can fill a gap for students in Ohio
The reality is, raising kids is expensive. Whether your child attends public or private school or is homeschooled, the ACE Ohio program offers funds which can help provide outside enrichment activities. If you think this program might be helpful for your family, I invite you to check it out. Ask good questions and consider your family’s situation. Educational decisions can be very personal, but knowing there are options is empowering!