Polygence blog / Education and College Admissions

How Can I Spend My ESA Money? The Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP)

4 minute read

The Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP) is an initiative aimed at supporting the educational pursuits of students in Kansas. Designed to provide financial assistance to qualifying parents and guardians, KEEP offers a unique opportunity to enhance the educational experience of eligible students through a $1,000 grant.

Education Scholarship Account (ESA) 

ESA typically stands for "Education Savings Account". These are investment accounts specifically designed to help families save for qualified education expenses. They are a type of tax-advantaged account, allowing contributions, earnings, and withdrawals to be made for educational purposes with certain tax benefits. ESAs are versatile in that they can be used for various levels of education, including primary, secondary, and higher education expenses.

Here are some key features of Education Savings Accounts:

1. Tax Advantages

Contributions to ESAs are often not tax-deductible, but the investment earnings within the account grow tax-free. Additionally, withdrawals for qualified education expenses are typically tax-free.

2. Qualified Expenses

ESAs can be used to cover a wide range of educational expenses, including tuition and fees, books, supplies, equipment, and, in some cases, room and board for eligible institutions.

3. Parents/Guardians Own ESA

Parents or guardians usually own and control the ESA on behalf of a designated beneficiary, often a child or family member.

4. Annual Contribution Limits

There are annual contribution limits imposed on ESAs, and these limits may vary based on specific program regulations. Contributions beyond these limits may incur penalties. ESAs offer flexibility in choosing how to invest the funds within the account, allowing for a range of investment options. The returns on these investments contribute to the overall growth of the account.

It's important to note that the specific rules and regulations governing ESAs can vary by region. Different states may have different names for similar educational savings programs, and the eligibility criteria, contribution limits, and allowable expenses can differ. If you're considering an ESA, it's advisable to familiarize yourself with the rules applicable to your specific location and circumstances. 

Below, we will specifically discuss the Kansas Education Enrichment Program (KEEP). 

What is KEEP and How Does it Work?

KEEP, short for the Kansas Education Enrichment Program, is a state-sponsored initiative that empowers parents and guardians to invest in their children's education. The program provides a grant of $1,000 per eligible student, allowing families to access a variety of approved educational goods and services. These funds can be used for a range of purposes, from camps and classes to tutoring, school supplies, and technology.

Eligibility Criteria:

To qualify for the KEEP program, certain eligibility criteria must be met. The child applying for the program must:

  • Be a resident of Kansas

  • Currently be enrolled in grades K-12 in a Kansas school, including public, private, or homeschooling.

  • Be at least 5 years old as of August 31, 2023, or 18 years of age or younger as of May 31, 2024.

  • Additionally, students above 18 may still qualify with proof of active school enrollment in a K-12 program.

Application Process:

The application process for KEEP involves submitting a complete application along with the required documents. Documents such as copies of IRS Form 1040, proof of Kansas residency, and relevant documents for special cases (e.g: foster parents or SNAP/FDPIR participants) are essential for a successful application. KEEP offers numerous benefits to eligible families, making it an attractive option for those seeking to enrich their child's education. Note that the program operates on a first-come, first-served basis, with applications reviewed based on the timestamp of submission, so it is advisable to apply early!

Some key advantages of participating in the program include:

  • No application or participation fees

  • Multiple students per household can apply. Families with more than one eligible student can receive multiple grants, maximizing the impact on education.

  • Online Education Marketplace: KEEP provides an online platform with pre-approved service providers, offering a convenient way for families to use their awarded funds.

Spending Your KEEP Money

Here’s a helpful diagram from the KEEP website:

Spending Your KEEP Money Image

Once awarded, KEEP funds can be utilized for various educational purposes, such as camps, classes, tutoring, school supplies, and technology. It is essential to consider the following when deciding how to spend the funds: 

  • Prioritize spending on activities or resources that align with the educational needs and goals of the student.

  • Utilize the Online Education Marketplace to explore pre-approved service providers, ensuring compliance with KEEP guidelines.

  • Beneficiaries have one year from their award date to use the funds, emphasizing the importance of timely and strategic spending.

Online Academic/Education Preparatory Program: Polygence

Polygence is an online platform that connects students with mentors for personalized, 1on1 research projects. If you're looking to enhance your educational experience, Polygence can offer several benefits:

  • Customized Learning
    Polygence provides a personalized learning experience tailored to your interests and academic goals. You can choose a research project that aligns with your passions and aspirations.

  • 1on1 Mentorship
    Working with a mentor through Polygence allows you to benefit from individualized guidance and expertise. Mentors are typically accomplished academics or professionals in their respective fields, offering valuable insights and support throughout the research process.

  • Research Skills Development
    Polygence projects are designed to develop crucial research skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication. Engaging in a research project can enhance your academic and professional skill set.

  • Flexible Schedule
    Polygence offers flexibility in terms of scheduling, allowing you to collaborate with your mentor at times that suit your academic and personal commitments.

If you're considering utilizing Polygence, here are steps to get started:

  • Explore your research interests by browsing through the available research projects or research mentors on the Polygence platform

  • Review the profiles of available mentors and choose one whose expertise matches your project's focus.

  • Enroll in the selected project and begin the collaboration with your mentor.

  • Work closely with your mentor to conduct research, develop skills, and create a meaningful project.

  • Present your completed project, demonstrating the knowledge and skills gained through the Polygence experience.

By leveraging the resources and opportunities provided by Polygence, you can enhance your educational journey and gain valuable insights that extend beyond traditional classroom learning. And the best part? You just might be able to pay for it through ESA  or KEEP. The rules from state to state vary and are subject to change each year, so please see the official government websites for the most updated rules and regulations on education spending accounts. 

Helpful References 

Use Your ESA Funds to Find Your Passion

Polygence pairs you with an expert mentor in your area of passion. Together, you work to create a high quality research project that is uniquely your own.