DES MOINES – Today, the Iowa Department of Education announced 2023 fall certified enrollment numbers for public school districts, accredited nonpublic schools and certified participation in the Students First Education Savings Account program for the 2023-24 school year.

Public school district certified enrollment was 483,699, down only approximately one-half percent (0.57%) from last year, as projected from population patterns. Certified enrollment at Iowa accredited nonpublic schools was 36,195, up from 33,692 last year, an increase of 7.4%. A total of 16,757 participants used their Students First Education Savings Account (ESA) at an accredited nonpublic school as of the Oct. 1 certified enrollment date.

Certified enrollment count is a snapshot in time, taken on the first day of October every year or the following Monday if the first falls on a weekend. Certified enrollment is used to determine funding for public schools and differs slightly from the actual headcount of students enrolled. Certified enrollment in October of any given year drives funding for the next fiscal year. Fall 2023 numbers will be used to determine public school funding for the 2024-25 school year.

Approximately 33.7% of the 16,757 student participants who used an ESA at an Iowa accredited nonpublic school for the 2023-24 school year did not previously attend a nonpublic school. About 12.7% of the student ESA participants previously attended a public school. Close to 21% of the student ESA participants were entering kindergarten students.

  • 2,135 ESA participants attended an Iowa public school last year.
  • 3,513 ESA participants were entering kindergarten students.

A breakdown of public school districts that have ESA participants who reside within their district boundaries is as follows:

  • 19.7% of districts (n=64) had no ESA students living within their district boundaries.
  • 40.6% of districts (n=132) had 1-10 ESA students living within their district boundaries.
  • 28% of districts (n=91) had 11-99 ESA students living within their district boundaries.
  • 11.7% of districts (n=38) had 100 or more ESA students living within their boundaries.

State enrollment projections from May 2022, prior to the passing of the ESA program, show a downward trend in public school enrollment starting in the 2023-24 school year and continuing through at least 2026-27.

The number of participants using their ESA account differs from the total number of applications that were approved by the Sept. 30 program close date. Some participants withdrew prior to the Oct. 1 certified enrollment date and others had an approved ESA but did not use it.

Certified enrollment for 2023-24 by public school district and accredited nonpublic school, including the number of ESA students by resident school district, is available on the Education Statistics page of the Department’s website under Public School Certified Enrollment Summary by District 2023-2024 and 2023-2024 Nonpublic Schools Certified Enrollment.

press release