IEA Program Information for Participating Schools

Thank you for your interest in partnering with the IEA Program. Please see the IEA Participating Non-Public School Handbook for a complete list of the qualifications, responsibilities, and requirements for participating schools. To participate in the Tennessee Department of Education’s (department) Individualized Education Account (IEA) Program and accept IEA funding from an IEA account holder for payment for tuition, fees, and/or textbooks, an interested non-public school must:

  • be listed on the department’s non-public schools list,
  • apply to the department,
  • receive approval, and
  • be placed on the approved list of IEA participating schools posted in the “Resources” section of the IEA webpage.

On February 20, 2024, the IEA team held a virtual forum featuring four IEA participating non-public schools from across the state. Representatives from each school answered questions related to their favorite or most challenging part of participating, how much time is devoted to meeting IEA requirements, and what decided them to join with IEA. A recording of that forum can be found on the “Resources” page of our website.


Applications for non-public schools to participate in the IEA Program are accepted year-round. School principals/directors must annually re-apply to participate in the IEA Program; the department strongly encourages each school to apply early to ensure that the school's application is fully approved and to ensure that parents are aware of all school options by the beginning date of the contract year, July 1. Complete the application by following the instructions listed on the IEA Non-Public Schools “Application” page.


To be eligible to participate in the IEA Program, a participating school must agree to comply with requirements including, but not limited to the following:

1. Be located in Tennessee, and be listed on the department’s non-public schools list.

2. Comply with all state laws, rules, and procedures for non-public schools.

3. Comply with all health and safety laws or codes that apply to non-public schools.

4. School staff must have completed criminal background checks as defined by the IEA Program rules (rules of the SBE Chapter 0520-01-11).

a. Staff must never have been convicted of a felony, including conviction on a plea of guilty, a plea of nolo contendere, or order granting pre-trial diversion.

5. Exclude from employment any person not permitted by state law to work in a non-public school.

6. Exclude from employment any person who might reasonably pose a threat to the safety of students.

7. Be able to accept the IEA debit card.

8. Do not discriminate against students or applicants on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

9. Comply with the minimum kindergarten age requirement pursuant to T.C.A § 49-6-201(b)(3) Minimum Kindergarten Program Law and the State Board of Education rules for non-public school approval - Chapter 0520-07-02 Non-Public School Approval Process.

Participating Non-Public School Rights

1. A participating non-public school is autonomous and not an agent of the state or federal government.

2. Neither the department nor any other state agency may regulate in any way the educational program of a participating non-public school that accepts funds from the parent of a participating student unless the non-public school is approved directly by the department as a category I or V non-public school.

3. The creation of the IEA Program does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, its officers, or any school district to impose any additional regulation of non-public schools beyond those necessary to enforce the requirements of the program.

4. Participating non-public schools shall be given the maximum freedom to provide for the educational needs of their students without governmental control.

5. A participating non-public school shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policies, or curriculum in order to accept participating students.

Participating School Responsibilities

1. Comply with all of the IEA state laws, rules, and procedures for participating schools and the requirements set in the IEA Participating Non-public School Handbook.

2. Be academically accountable to the parent for meeting the educational needs of the student.

3. At a minimum, annually provide to the parent a written explanation of the student’s progress.

4. If the student is in grades 3–8, and if requested by the parent, annually administer either a nationally norm-referenced test identified by the department or the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests or any future replacements of the TCAP tests.

5. Provide parents with a receipt for all qualifying expenses.

6. Do not hold IEA cards and run them on-site without the parent present or copy credit card information for use at a later date.

7. Annually submit to the department the graduation and completion rates of students in the IEA Program following the instructions provided by the department by the deadline posted on the IEA webpage.

8. If at any time, the information submitted in the school application changes, the school principal must report the changes by emailing

9. Do not accept private placement funds for students enrolled in the IEA Program.

10. If a student withdraws from the school and transfers to another school or returns to the school district, refund the tuition and fees on a prorated basis based on the number of days the student was enrolled in the school following the procedures set by the department.

11. Upon a student’s withdrawal from the school, send all educational records of the participating student to the school district or other school identified by the parent.

12. If requested by the department, submit to the department a financial audit of the school conducted by a certified public accountant. The purpose of the audit would be to ensure that the school is in compliance with all of the state laws, rules, and procedures.

13. If requested by the department, allow the department to conduct site visits. The purpose of the site visits is solely to verify the information reported by the schools concerning the enrollment and attendance of students, background screening of staff, and compliance with state law, rules, and procedures.

Updating School Information

If at any time the information submitted in the application changes, including, but not limited to, the email address, physical address, and phone number, the school shall report the changes to the department by emailing within 15 days of any changes.