EDUCATION FREEDOM ACCOUNTS
194-F:4 Authority and Responsibilities of the Scholarship Organization.
The scholarship organization shall have the following additional duties, obligations, and authority:
I. The scholarship organization shall maintain an updated list of education service providers and shall ensure that the list is publicly available through various sources, including the Internet.
II. The scholarship organization shall provide parents with a written explanation of the allowable uses of EFA funds, the responsibilities of parents, the duties of the scholarship organization, and the role of any financial management firms that the scholarship organization may contract with to administer any aspect of the EFA program.
III. The scholarship organization shall ensure that parents of students with disabilities receive notice that participation in the EFA program is a parental placement under 20 U.S.C. section 1412, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), along with an explanation of the rights that parentally placed students possess under IDEA and any applicable state laws.
IV. The scholarship organization shall, in cooperation with the department, determine eligibility for differentiated aid subject to any applicable state and federal laws.
V. The scholarship organization may withhold from deposits or deduct from EFAs an amount to cover the costs of administering the EFA program, up to a maximum of 10 percent annually.
VI. The scholarship organization shall implement a commercially viable system for payment of services from EFAs to education service providers by electronic or online funds transfer.
(a) The scholarship organization shall not adopt a system that relies exclusively on requiring parents to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, but rather shall provide maximum flexibility to parents by facilitating direct payments to education service providers. Scholarship organizations may pre-approve requests for reimbursements for qualifying expenses, including expenses pursuant to RSA 194-F:2, II, but shall not disperse funds to parents without receipt that such pre-approved purchase has been made.
(b) A scholarship organization may contract with a private institution or organization to develop the payment system.
VII. The scholarship organization may also seek to implement a commercially viable system for parents to publicly rate, review, and share information about education service providers, ideally as part of the same system that facilitates the electronic or online funds transfers.
VIII. If an education service provider requires partial payment of tuition or fees prior to the start of the academic year to reserve space for an EFA student admitted to the education service provider, such partial payment may be paid by the scholarship organization, if funds are available, prior to the start of the school year in which the EFA is awarded and deducted in an equitable manner from subsequent quarterly EFA deposits to ensure adequate funds remain available throughout the school year; but if an EFA student decides not to use the education service provider, the partial reservation payment shall be returned to the scholarship organization by such education service provider and credited to the student's EFA.
IX. The scholarship organization shall continue making deposits into a student's EFA until:
(a) The scholarship organization determines that the EFA student is no longer an eligible student.
(b) The scholarship organization determines that there was substantial misuse of the funds in the EFA.
(c) The parent or EFA student withdraws from the EFA program.
(d) The EFA student enrolls full-time in the resident district public school.
(e) The EFA student graduates from high school.
X. The scholarship organization may conduct or contract for the auditing of individual EFAs, and shall at a minimum conduct random audits of EFAs on an annual basis.
XI. The scholarship organization may make any parent or EFA student ineligible for the EFA program in the event of intentional and substantial misuse of EFA funds.
(a) The scholarship organization shall create procedures to ensure that a fair process exists to determine whether an intentional and substantial misuse of EFA funds has occurred.
(b) If an EFA student is free from personal misconduct, that student shall be eligible for an EFA in the future if placed with a new guardian or other person with the legal authority to act on behalf of the student.
(c) The scholarship organization may refer suspected cases of intentional and substantial misuse of EFA funds to the attorney general for investigation if evidence of fraudulent use of EFA funds is obtained.
(d) A parent or EFA student may appeal the scholarship organization's decision to deny eligibility for the EFA program to the department.
XII. The scholarship organization may bar an education service provider from accepting payments from EFAs if the scholarship organization determines that the education service provider has:
(a) Intentionally and substantially misrepresented information or failed to refund any overpayments in a timely manner.
(b) Routinely failed to provide students with promised educational goods or services.
XIII. The scholarship organization shall create procedures to ensure that a fair process exists to determine whether an education service provider may be barred from receiving payments from EFAs.
(a) If the scholarship organization bars an education service provider from receiving payments from EFAs, it shall notify parents and EFA students of its decision as quickly as possible.
(b) Education service providers may appeal the scholarship organization's decision to bar them from receiving payments from the EFA to the department.
XIV. The scholarship organization may accept gifts and grants from any source to cover administrative costs, to inform the public about the EFA program, or to fund additional EFAs.
XV. The department shall adopt rules that are necessary for the administration of this chapter.
XVI. The scholarship organization shall adopt policies or procedures that are necessary for the administration of this chapter. This may include policies or procedures:
(a) Establishing or contracting for the establishment of an online anonymous fraud reporting service.
(b) Establishing an anonymous telephone number for fraud reporting.
(c) Requiring a surety bond for education service providers receiving more than $100,000 in EFA funds.
(d) Refunding payments from education service providers to EFAs.
(e) Ensuring appropriate use and rigorous oversight of all funds expended under this program.
XVII. The scholarship organization shall not exclude, discriminate against, or otherwise disadvantage any education provider with respect to programs or services under this section based in whole or in part on the provider's religious character or affiliation, including religiously based or mission-based policies or practices.
Source. 2021, 91:431, eff. Aug. 24, 2021.