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For several years now I’ve been maintaining a reimbursement tracker for families who use My Tech High in Utah to help fund their homeschooling. This year the Utah State Legislature passed a bill that allows families much more direct access to educational funding for their students through the Utah Education Fits All Scholarship. I had a few parents who received these scholarships ask if I could create a similar tracker for their students, so I took an evening to repurpose my My Tech High tracker into something that will work for UFA Scholarship recipients as well.

Unfortunately our family was not awarded scholarships this year so we will be continuing with My Tech High this year. I feel like it’s appropriate though for me to explain why I support these scholarships (and hope to be awarded in future years), as well as to share some of the classes and resources that I would have spent the money on this year. Hopefully this helps others to understand the need for this type of program, and helps connect those who did receive a scholarship with resources that they will find useful. If you’re just here for the tracker you can click here to skip to the instructions (and don’t feel bad if you want to skip ahead – I’m not known for telling short stories 😛 )

My Kids Educational History and Needs

I have 5 kids ranging in age from 15 years to 14 months and through the years we have used many different educational approaches to meet them each where they’re at. When our oldest was 5 (2014) we sent him to kindergarten at the local public elementary school. He had taught himself to read at a fairly high level long before kindergarten but we felt like it would be a positive experience for him to attend public school for the social aspects. Overall he had a very positive experience but I noticed that every day he came home with blank worksheets. I quickly worked out that since he was so academically advanced he wasn’t getting attention to help him progress as the teacher had to put her focus on the students who were far behind. I didn’t fault her for that one bit – if I had a class with one student who could read chapter books and others who didn’t know their alphabet, my focus would be on the latter group as well. But I recognized that my son, who struggles with staying focused, was not being challenged in the ways I had hoped.

So for first grade (2015) we decided to pull him out and homeschool him. Luckily our elementary school was really accommodating and allowed him to be associated with a mainstream class to join in for specialties each day. It was awesome! They would even let him ride the bus in the morning and I would just come and pick him up after specialties. He really liked computers, art and PE but he has some sensory issues so he disliked music. It was a really great middle ground while we were dipping our toes in the water for homeschooling.

I found a program through our school district that would give him access to K12 curriculum and it seemed like a great way to get started in homeschooling with the support of the public school system. I’d love to say that our first year as a homeschooling family was magical – but honestly it was miserable! The program was WAY too much of worksheets and it destroyed my son’s love of learning. It took us years to rebuild his love of learning after that – it was one of the worst mistakes I’ve made as a parent.

Luckily, during our first year of homeschooling we learned about My Tech High and we enrolled with them for his second grade year (2016). Our younger son was entering kindergarten and we decided to homeschool him as well. Their individual learning styles and needs could not possibly be more different. While my oldest had taught himself how to read, his brother has a bit of dyslexia and took many years to get up to a normal reading level. I was very grateful that we had him at home over the next few years so we could focus on the things that he really shines at (he’s a deep thinker, a natural entrepreneur and a stellar engineer among other things). He never felt like he was stupid or behind just because his reading skills took a little longer to develop than other kids’ did. My younger brother struggles with dyslexia as well and I still remember holding him in my lap one day after kindergarten while he cried telling me that his teacher had called him stupid because he couldn’t draw Y’s well. I’m forever grateful that I was able to spare my son from similar humiliation and that we could meet him where he was at.

We continued on with our homeschooling journey until our 3rd child started kindergarten in 2019. Like my second son she also struggled with dyslexia. We chose to homeschool her as well – which turned out to be an amazing choice as it set us up beautifully when schools were shut down and altered in 2020! We were so grateful that we didn’t have to make any significant changes to our lifestyle during lockdowns. While her reading skills significantly lagged she actually kept right up with her brothers on their history and science curriculums. Most people wouldn’t dream of teaching a kindergartner about WW2, or how fiat currency works, or how electricity works – but our daughter got to be a part of all of that while home with her brothers. I’ve heard many times how impressed people are with her reasoning and knowledge because she was never pigeonholed into younger subjects.

As we continued to work with our daughter we found that her reading ability was significantly worse than her brother’s. In second grade (2021) we decided to get her tested for dyslexia, and we found that she did indeed have dyslexia. She spent a year in specialized tutoring to help her progress in reading beyond what I was able to do for her at home. I was again glad that we’d had her at home where she didn’t feel like a failure for being behind. We focused a lot at home on how awesome she is at math and other things and met her where she was at on reading.

As she continued in her reading tutoring I decided I should probably have her eyes checked as well. We took all our kids in for vision exams and discovered that she had a severe convergence insufficiency – which means that her eyes wouldn’t work well together and she would see double for any objects that were near field (in her case meaning basically anything closer than arm’s length). No wonder her reading was so bad – she couldn’t hardly see the words on the paper! We were able to get her into vision therapy and they were able to resolve her issues entirely within 8 months.

At the same time she decided that she really wanted to try out public school. I warned her that she would have a tough time being so behind in reading but she wanted to give it a go. So in 2022 she started 3rd grade at our elementary school and loved it! Her teacher was so great with accommodating her reading skills and her IEP got her individualized reading instruction that helped get her caught up while we were fixing her eyes. She has been completely happy with her choice to be at the public school and I’m happy for her.

While our daughter was trying out public school our oldest decided that he would also like to take a couple of classes at the local middle school. With My Tech High we were able to work out split enrollment so that he attended school for two classes every other day, but did everything else at home. This was a fantastic split for him. In addition to the subjects we covered at home he spent his time outside of school to participate in Lyceum Orchestra through American Heritage and joined Beginning Speech & Debate through the Independent Education Program. Our oldest liked his split schedule enough that he decided to do it again this year, and convinced his younger brother to join him in split enrollment. He loved it even more than his older brother despite being VERY skeptical at first at how he would fare in a public school setting.

This past year (2023) our 4th child entered kindergarten and we had to decide what to do with him. We like to call this kid neuro-spicy – he’s probably somewhere on the ADHD spectrum. Like his oldest brother he also taught himself how to read and is SO busy. We knew that he is happiest – and we are happiest – when he has structure and lots of stimulation. I’m not great at providing that at home so we decided that he needed to go to a more traditional school setting. We enrolled him at a local charter school because they had full day kindergarten and he has been SO happy there. Everyone knows him and next year we’re hoping that he gets a place in their Mandarin immersion program and he will continue there.

Looking ahead – our plan for this coming year is for our 4th child to continue at his charter school, our 3rd will continue full time at public school, our 2nd is looking forward to continuing with split-enrollment, and our oldest has decided to go a fully homeschool route with community classes but none through the public school. I don’t yet know what to expect from our 5th child – he’s only 14 months old so there’s still plenty of time. But I know for sure that his educational needs will be different from my other 4 children’s needs.

Why I Support Utah Education Fits All Scholarships

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in our journey it’s that education is NOT one size fits all – not even close! There is probably nothing more individual than the educational needs and desires of each child, and that’s fantastic! I have a very small sample set, but each of my 5 kids have had needs that were completely different from one another and we’ve had to allocate each of their resources differently. Not only have their needs differed from one another, but they’ve differed from year to year!

This is why I am so supportive of the Utah Education Fits All Scholarships. The state of Utah spends $11,000 annually on each student in the public education system – but that system cannot tailor an education to each student. It’s just not set up to do that. Giving choices to parents allows parents and students to make the choices that fit their child best and gives them the chance to really maximize our tax dollars to give Utah kids the most advantages to succeed wildly in the world. I’ve been able to do quite a bit with the $1800ish/student that My Tech High has provided – but I go through those funds very quickly and spend far more on my kids’ education throughout the year than what I get reimbursed. These $8000 scholarships make it truly possible for parents to give their students the educational opportunities they deserve.

I feel very blessed that we have the means to provide education for our kids beyond what we’ve been reimbursed – but being able to effectively educate our children should not be a privilege reserved only for the upper class. Homeschool, private schools, micro-schools, and hybrid options should be available for all Utahns so that we can all give our kids the education that best fits their individual needs. For many kids that may still be the public education system, but no one should be forced into a system that doesn’t fit their needs only because it’s the only place our tax dollars will follow them.

Where Our Scholarships Would Have Gone

As I mentioned before, we were not awarded scholarships this year, but that hasn’t stopped me from considering where we would have spent the money. To be honest, my kids’ educational opportunities this next year improved simply by making those considerations. I sat down one day and considered what extra things I would spend that money on. After listing it out I realized there were some things on that list that might not fit into our My Tech High budget, but that felt worthwhile enough that we could make sacrifices to fit them into our household budget. So here are the things I would have spent money on for each child if we’d been awarded scholarships. I’ve tried to link things as much as possible in case anyone else is interested in these resources. Most of them are things that I’ve used to some extent in the past so I feel like I can heartily recommend them 😊

Child #1 – 15 years old, 10th grade

My oldest child is hoping to be a computer programmer when he grows up (considering that both of his parents are programmers, that seems to be a likely possibility). He is an avid reader and loves creative writing. He has been taking violin lessons for 8 years now and is really coming along in his talents there. He doesn’t love physical activity but he’s willing to go skiing with his dad and siblings on the weekends and has gained a lot of confidence through those activities.

Item PurchasedCost
Individual Violin lessons$1,680.00
Ikon Ski Pass$1,019.00
BYU IS Physical Science 100 (including textbooks)$787.00
BYU Creative Writing Camp$739.00
Independent Education Program – Elite Speech & Debate$550.00
Bookshark History Curriculum$513.03
Driver’s Ed$500.00
American Heritage’s Lyceum Orchestra$400.00
BYU IS Second Year Spanish Part 1$299.00
BYU IS Second Year Spanish Part 2$299.00
Teen Author Boot Camp$200.00

In addition to what’s listed he would continue to do his math through Khan Academy and would participate in LDS Seminary (both of which are free). With the leftover funds we would probably update his computer set up to be more functional for the kinds of programming projects he wants to work on. I’m sure we would easily fill out the rest of the funds with books, office supplies, field trips and other miscellaneous expenses.

Child #2 – 13 years old, 8th grade

My second oldest child is an aspiring robotics engineer. While he reads adequately he could still definitely use some support to get up to grade level. He is constantly active – he loves soccer, bike riding and skiing – especially soccer. He has taken piano lessons off and on since he was 5 but doesn’t currently have a teacher so he hasn’t progressed much recently.

Item PurchasedCost
Individual Piano lessons$1,680.00
Ikon Ski Pass$1,019.00
BYU STEM Camp$888.00
Independent Education Program – Robotics Team$650.00
BYU Soccer camp$645.00
Crunch Labs Hack Pack$400.00
Kiwi Co – Eureka Crates$324.00
Kiwi Co – Yummy crates$240.00
Audible subscription$230.00
Paper Plane Learning Art classes$200.00
Rec League Soccer$150.00
Touch, Type, Read and Spell$149.00

In addition he would also continue using Khan Academy for his math with some private tutoring over Zoom. Luckily the private tutoring is done with his grandma and she’s willing to tutor him for free 😉 He was hoping with a scholarship to be able to do split enrollment at the local middle school to continue taking art and science classes. Unfortunately our school district has been very hostile towards becoming a vendor for the scholarship so we probably would have needed to source those classes elsewhere – which would add to our budget of course. I’m sure any extra funds would have been quickly gobbled up with some reading tutoring, robotics projects supplies, or improving his workstation.

Child #3 – 10 years old, 5th grade

I actually didn’t apply for a scholarship for our daughter. She’s happy & thriving at the public school so I wouldn’t be inclined to pull her out even if she was awarded. The point of the scholarships is not to destroy public schools – but to make them the most available for those who succeed there! Public education seems to “fit” her so why mess with a good thing? However, freeing up some funding in our household budget by her brothers being awarded would have made it easier to pay for the dance and violin lessons that she would like to take this next year.

Child #4 – 6 years old, 1st grade

I also didn’t apply for our younger son as he’s also thriving at his charter school. Although if we had been awarded I might have looked more earnestly into therapies and guidance for dealing with his neurological differences. It also would have made it easier for us to sign him up for Let’s Play Music and rec league soccer. If we were awarded in future years I would definitely look to see what other options are out there to really meet his educational needs better, but for now he seems happiest where he is so we’ll just leave him there.

Child #5 – 14 months old, not in school

Obviously I didn’t even have the option to apply for my baby, and his educational expenses right now are pretty minimal (especially with so many hand-me-down toys from his older siblings) – but I couldn’t leave him out! Being awarded would open lots of options for him in future years but we’ll wait to see what his educational needs actually are.

Spreadsheet Instructions

Thanks for sticking with me through all of that, or skipping past my whole story without complaining. You’ve made it to what you’re here for – learning how to use the new tracker! If you’ve used the My Tech High tracker in the past this new spreadsheet should feel very familiar, but it’s MUCH simpler. I will walk you through how it works below.

❗❗The first thing you need to do is make a COPY of my spreadsheet. ❗❗I frequently get edit requests for the master spreadsheet from people who miss that step, and then you have to wait until I see the email and respond to it… and I will tell you to make a copy 😜  So save us both some time and don’t skip that step! Here’s the link to the Google Sheet- Utah Education Fits All Scholarship Reimbursement Tracker

Let’s start with how to make your own copy.  To do this you go to File->Make a copy…

After you do that a box will pop up asking for a name for this document.  I recommend naming it something like “UFA [school year]” so that you don’t get your workbooks mixed up in future years.

The first thing you will do is enter your students’ names and grades in the Students sheet. You can also pick a color for each student which will just make the rest of the workbook prettier – and making it pretty is what’s most important right?

On the left it shows a budget breakdown for each of your students. At the top it tells you how much money you have remaining to spend across all students. You will not need to make any changes to these columns because everything will be calculated automatically. You may notice in my example that I’m over budget for Sam but it doesn’t take the negative amount away from the total available to spend because you can’t spend over the limit for any particular student.

On the purchase list you simply enter in the items you have purchased, the price paid and then select the student the purchase is associated with. As you do that you will notice that the “remaining” balances will update to show you how much is left in each category. Ok one last worksheet to go! Go ahead and click on the “Reimbursement Cover Sheet”.

You won’t need the reimbursement cover sheet until it’s time to submit your receipts but I find this to be really handy. At the top of the page you can select a student and then the rest of the workbook populates with all of the purchases for that period. I will print this page to a PDF and then use it to help me make sure I have all of my receipts together before submitting them at reimbursement time. I use the free program PDFBinder and put the cover sheet first and then add all of the receipts in the order they’re listed on my cover sheet. This makes it easy to see at a glance what all of my expenses were and help me get reimbursed faster. I don’t know yet what the reimbursement process will look like for this scholarship but I feel like this will likely be useful.

Once you’ve already made one submission and you need to make another then if you go back to the Budgets worksheet and check off the “Submitted?” boxes on the expenses that you’ve already been reimbursed for, then when you go back to the Cover Sheet worksheet you’ll see that it only displays the receipts that you haven’t yet been reimbursed for.

One last tip for anyone who considers themselves lightly advanced. If you want to sort your purchases – Select all of the purchase list cells by clicking on the “Item Purchased” cell and dragging your mouse until you are down to the submitted column on your last row. Then go to the “Data” menu and select “Sort range”.

Check the “Data has a header row” box and then you can sort things however you like. I usually like to sort by student, then by cost high to low. The sorting won’t stay as you enter in more items, but I find this to be handy as I’m trying to keep organized – especially when I’m getting ready to submit.

And that’s it!  Hopefully this helps you to better keep track of your scholarship expenses and budget in the coming years!  If you notice anything that I’ve missed please comment below so that I can get it fixed! 

How to Say Thank You

If this is useful to you there are a few different ways you can help me out. First, if you haven’t already contacted your Utah state legislators in support of the Utah Education Fits All Scholarships – please do so now! We’re counting on continued momentum to make it possible for us to get scholarships next year. Or if you know how to get us bumped to the top of the waitlist we’d gladly accept a scholarship this year 😉 (just kidding… sort of 😜 )

Next, I can’t say enough how much it means just to read comments of people who have been helped by my tracker. Leave a comment here or tag me on Facebook – you have no idea how much that makes my day! These trackers have taken a lot of work and it really just makes me happy to know that they are helpful to others ❤️

If you really want to be helpful, if you would consider following my page on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter it would really help me as I try to grow this website into a thriving community. I try to post things that are interesting and I have lot of other great resources – homeschooling, tech, that I’d love to get out to everyone.

You can also consider making a purchase through my affiliate shop (I’m trying to update it with all of my favorite homeschooling resources) to help me keep this site going or making a donation to my site.  If you’re looking for more ideas on what curriculum you want to use check out my curriculum recommendations post or if you’re looking for ideas on how to schedule your day check out my homeschool scheduling post. Happy Homeschooling 🙂

Here’s a link to the spreadsheet again, just so you don’t have to hunt through the article to find it – Utah Education Fits All Scholarship Reimbursement Tracker

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the Utah Education Fits All Scholarship other than as a parent who hopes to have students in the program in the future. This tracker is provided free of charge and without warranty. I intend to keep all formulas and information current and accurate however I accept no liability for any faults in the program. Use at your own risk.