The Missouri Treasurer's office has filed its first round of rules for the state's new Empowerment Scholarship Account program with the Secretary of State's office.
A spokesman for the Secretary of State's office said the new rules may be available for public viewing as early as February 22, but that a 30-day comment period on the new rules will definitely open on March 1.
When the rules are available for public viewing, they will be posted online as part of the new edition of the Missouri Register at https://www.sos.mo.gov/adrules/moreg/moreg/2022.
The rules are expected to provide more clarity on exactly how the new Empowerment Scholarship Account program, now called MO Scholars by the Treasurer's Office, will work for parents, schools, and scholarship granting organizations.
The rule-making process cannot create popular fixes to the existing law like expanding who can qualify for an ESA scholarship. Such changes will require additional work at the state capitol to pass new legislation.
The new rules, once approved, are expected to be in effect by early summer, allowing enough time for Education Assistance Organizations, or EAOs, to form and begin distributing scholarships to students before the start of the 2022-23 school year.
Staff at the Treasurer's Office say they have already been contacted by a number of organizations interested in becoming EAOs that they are working to ensure those organizations can work toward state approval concurrently with the rule-making process.
While parents and schools eager to have questions answered and start taking advantage of the new program may be frustrated by the slow pace of the rule-making process, these are unfortunately necessary steps that any new program must go through before being able to help Missouri students.
The best thing parents, students, and schools interested in ESA scholarships can do at this point is to sign up for notifications at https://www.showmeschooloptions.org .
We will notify you as soon as the rules are posted for public viewing, when the comment period for the new rules opens, and when scholarship applications are available.