Georgia Passes Promise Scholarships and Expands Education Opportunity

Georgia Passes Promise Scholarships and Expands Education Opportunity

Georgia's new education choice program, the Georgia Promise Scholarship, expands education opportunities for kids in low-performing public schools

Georgia Passes Promise Scholarships and Expands Education Opportunity

Key Points

  • Georgia lawmakers and Gov. Kemp have officially passed Senate Bill 233, which creates a new education option called the Georgia Promise Scholarship program. 
  • Promise Scholarships will help students in low-performing public schools. Eligible students can receive $6,500 scholarships to access different education options that match their needs.
  • The program is a positive first step toward an education system that works for every Georgia kid. To make an even bigger difference, lawmakers should work toward opening up the program to all Georgia students.

On April 23, 2024, Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 233, the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, into law. This education savings account program—the first of its kind in Georgia—will give parents access to $6,500 state-funded scholarships that they can use to afford the education option best suited to their child’s needs. 

The Promise Scholarship Program empowers parents to give their kids quality education and brighter futures 

Promise Scholarships will be state-administered, state-funded accounts that give parents $6,500 per year and per student to use for approved education expenses. The program will be available beginning in the 2025-2026 school year. 

Parents can use these scholarships for a variety of education costs, including: 

  • Tuition and fees for private schools, online classes, college courses, and vocational programs
  • Tutoring services
  • Curriculum and textbooks
  • Educational therapies
  • Technology, including adaptive or assistive technologies for students with special needs
  • Transportation costs

Because of this flexibility, Promise Scholarships allow parents to consider a wide range of options—from homeschooling to private schools to other unique combinations of education services. 

“The best gift we can give our next generation is a quality education that opens the doors for new opportunities.” — Randy Hicks, GCO President & CEO

“The best gift we can give our next generation is a quality education that opens the doors for new opportunities.” — Randy Hicks, GCO President & CEO

Promise Scholarship eligibility focuses on low- and middle-income students 

SB 233 limits Promise Scholarship access to students enrolled in the bottom 25% of Georgia’s public schools, as ranked by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. 

First priority will also be given to students from families below 400% of the federal poverty level—around $120,000 a year for a family of four. Students above that threshold will be allowed to participate if funds are left over after the lower-income students are served.

These parameters—plus the funding cap that SB 233 puts on the program—means that Promise Scholarships will serve an estimated 21,000-22,000 kids out of half a million that are stuck in low-performing public schools. 

See all the student eligibility requirements here. 

The Georgia Promise Scholarship is an important step for updating our education system

SB 233 is a good step toward giving Georgia families access to high-quality, diverse education options. With more education options, students will have even better opportunities to get an education that’s tailored to their needs and sets them up for success in today’s fast-changing world. But if Georgia is serious about investing in our communities, we must keep working to close the education opportunity gap for all of Georgia’s kids. 

By passing SB 233, Georgia is catching up to neighboring states like Alabama, Florida, North Carolina that have already adopted education savings account programs. 

While Georgia is starting out with narrow student eligibility, these other states are opting for universal ESA programs, opening access to all students. Georgia will need to be open to this model if we want to give our own students the best possible academic outcomes and opportunities for a flourishing life. 

Thank you to Gov. Kemp and the lawmakers who recognized the urgency of the moment and passed Promise Scholarships to strengthen the key building block of education for thousands of kids across the state. It’s a momentous step toward a system where every child has access to quality education and a good life, regardless of income, race, zip code, or other life circumstances. 

Learn more about the Georgia Promise Scholarship

The Georgia Promise Scholarship Act (SB 233): Questions and Answers (Georgia Center for Opportunity)

What is the Georgia Promise Scholarship? (Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

The Georgia Promise Scholarship (SB 233): What Private Schools Need to Know (Georgia Center for Opportunity)

Georgia Students Need More Schooling Choices (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Governor’s Signature on School Choice Bill Is Good First Step (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Georgia Governor Signs Bill to Launch ‘Promise Scholarships’ (Washington Examiner)

Kentucky Lawmakers Override Governor’s Veto to Pass Safer Kentucky Act, Targeting Crime in Low-Income Areas

Kentucky Lawmakers Override Governor’s Veto to Pass Safer Kentucky Act, Targeting Crime in Low-Income Areas

Media statement, in the news, Georgia news, ga news

Kentucky Lawmakers Override Governor’s Veto to Pass Safer Kentucky Act, Targeting Crime in Low-Income Areas

Kentucky state lawmakers voted Friday to override a veto from Gov. Andy Beshear of House Bill 5, the Safer Kentucky Act. The new law will lower crime by addressing gang-related violence, updating carjacking laws, facilitating successful reentry programs, and more.

The Center for Opportunity’s take: “Although all of Kentucky will benefit from this new law, the positives will be concentrated in poor and low-income communities, where the impacts of crime are felt disproportionately,” said Josh Crawford, director of criminal justice initiatives for the Center for Opportunity. “We can’t even begin to discuss the best ways to economically revitalize an area until we address the crime problem. Safe streets lead to thriving communities. The Safer Kentucky Act is a crucial step forward in achieving this end.”

For more on the Safer Kentucky Act, click here.

    U.S. House passes a bill that’s a step toward ‘One Door’ social safety-net reforms

    U.S. House passes a bill that’s a step toward ‘One Door’ social safety-net reforms

    press release, news, The press release prominently features the company logo and headline, with visible text detailing the announcement.

    U.S. House passes a bill that’s a step toward ‘One Door’ social safety-net reforms

    PEACHTREE CORNERS, GA—Yesterday, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House passed ​H.R. 6655, a Stronger Workforce for America Act, which establishes a crucial demonstration waiver for a handful of states to implement safety-net reforms similar to Utah’s “One Door” policy. As a member of the coalition group the Alliance for Opportunity, the Georgia Center for Opportunity has played an important role in educating lawmakers on the perils of the current social safety net that creates barriers to work and upward mobility.

    H.R. 6655 revises the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for the first time since 2014. The bill would give four states leeway to explore a “One Door” safety-net reform strategy similar to Utah’s model enacted in the 1990s. Utah consolidated federal workforce development and social safety-net programs into a single state entity and fully integrated the safety-net system into workforce development programs.

    “This is an important first step toward improving the social safety-net in all 50 states and breaking down barriers to work and a flourishing life,” said Randy Hicks, president and CEO of the Georgia Center for Opportunity. “The next step is to broaden the scope to allow every state to explore ways to integrate workforce and safety-net programs. These reforms are badly needed. There are 8.9 million open jobs across the U.S., and the workforce participation rate hasn’t fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. We must create a safety-net system that doesn’t trap people in generational poverty but provides a pathway to a better life.”

    Under H.R. 6655, the five-year innovation waiver is only available to states with populations of less than six million and a labor force participation rate below 60%. According to the Alliance for Opportunity, currently only nine states fit the bill: Louisiana, West Virginia, Missouri, South Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Maine, Kentucky, and New Mexico.

    Under the current version of WIOA, states are barred from implementing such reforms. Utah was grandfathered in and is the only exception.

    The bill contains another potential pathway toward a One Door model as well. Three years after enactment of the law, any state’s governor can consolidate workforce programs into one entity, but doing so would require the approval of half of the chairpersons of local workforce boards.

    “These reforms would advance the end goal for every work-capable individual in a safety-net program to participate in effective employment and training programs,” added Hicks. “Numerous studies show that the benefits of work extend well beyond finances, encompassing overall wellbeing and a host of other benefits. One Door reforms will help ensure we have a system that encourages people to find work and improve their lives.”




    Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) is independent, non-partisan, and solutions-focused. Our team is dedicated to creating opportunities for a quality education, fulfilling work, and a healthy family life for all Georgians. To achieve our mission, we research ways to help remove barriers to opportunity in each of these pathways, promote our solutions to policymakers and the public, and help effective and innovative social enterprises deliver results in their communities.

    Lou Penrose Show with Special Guest Josh Crawford

    Lou Penrose Show with Special Guest Josh Crawford

    Georgia news, in the news, current events, Georgia happenings, GA happenings

    Lou Penrose Show with Special Guest Josh Crawford

    Josh Crawford, an expert in criminal justice reform from the Georgia Center for Opportunity, appeared as a guest on the Lou Penrose Show. He discussed the need for comprehensive changes to the justice system to reduce recidivism rates and provide better support for formerly incarcerated individuals. Crawford shared insights from his work advocating for policies like improving education and job training opportunities for those with criminal records.

    Listen to the full show.