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

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

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

Key Points

  • Georgia Senators have passed a bill (Senate Bill 233) that would create Promise Scholarship Accounts. The bill is headed to the House for a vote.
  • Funded by the state in the amount of $6,000 per student for each school year, Promise Scholarships would allow parents to find the right education option for their kids. 
  • Eligibility is limited to kids in the bottom-performing quartile of public schools (F-graded schools and some D-graded schools), based on the Georgia Department of Education’s evaluation.

The Georgia Senate has passed Senate Bill 233, the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, which would expand education options in Georgia by creating education savings accounts. Georgia has a widespread problem of underperforming public schools and a growing parent demand for more education choice and flexibility. Promise Scholarships are a much-needed solution for expanding quality education for Georgia kids. Here’s what parents and voters need to know about Promise Scholarships.

What is SB 233, the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act? 

The Georgia Promise Scholarship Act (SB 233) is a type of education choice program for parents and families. It creates promise scholarships, which are state-administered, state-funded accounts that would give families $6,000 per year and per student to use for approved education expenses. Another common name for this type of program is “education savings accounts.”

How would Georgia Promise Scholarship Accounts work?

Promise Scholarship Accounts would give families $6,000 per year and per student to use for approved education expenses. The state would set aside these funds into an account the parent can direct toward the education option(s) that best supports their child’s unique learning needs.

How is the Promise Scholarship amount determined?

Georgia Promise Scholarship amounts are set at $6,000, which is approximately the average per-pupil amount that the state sends to local school districts, based on Georgia’s current student funding formula.

What could Georgia parents do with a Promise Scholarship Account?

Unlike Georgia’s other school choice programs, Promise Scholarship Accounts give parents the flexibility to buy multiple education products and services to personalize their child’s education. Parents can use accounts to pay one or more qualifying education expenses:

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

Who can apply for a Promise Scholarship? 

To apply and qualify, parents must be Georgia residents, and the student must be enrolled in a Georgia public school that the Georgia Department of Education ranks in the bottom quartile of school performance based on their annual assessment (schools receiving a “D” or “F” grade from the state). Children who are eligible for kindergarten or pre-kindergarten can also apply. Once eligible, a child remains eligible through the 12th grade. 

Parents must agree to use the accounts only for qualifying educational expenses, and they cannot enroll their child in a local school system school, charter school, or a state charter school while participating in the program.

Do you qualify?
Use our interactive map to see which schools are in the lowest 25% of Georgia’s public schools.

Do you qualify?
Use our interactive map to see which schools are in the lowest 25% of Georgia’s public schools.

Why does Georgia need the Promise Scholarship Act? 

Georgia has a widespread problem of underperforming or failing public schools. Based on our state’s own evaluation of public school performance, at least 500,000 kids are stuck in schools that receive a D or F grade from the Georgia Department of Education. 

Georgia, like many states, is experiencing a parent movement for more education choice and flexibility as frustration with a one-size-fits-all school system has grown since the pandemic. This program would give parents seeking alternatives more opportunity to customize their child’s education when the local public school is not the best fit. 

The program would also benefit parents who are satisfied with their local public school. States with robust education choice programs achieve better outcomes for all students, including those in the public school system. Education savings account programs, in particular, have a track record of empowering public schools to improve their budgets, as well as student achievement.

Are Georgia Promise Scholarships the same thing as school vouchers?

No, Promise Scholarships and vouchers are two different types of parental choice programs. This question is a common one because critics of education savings accounts often call them “private school scholarships” or “vouchers by another name.” However, both descriptions are inaccurate and misleading.

School vouchers allow parents to use public education dollars for private school tuition only. Education savings accounts can be used for a wider range of education expenses, and they allow parents more flexibility to pay for multiple education services and products if desired.

Are Georgia Promise Scholarships the same thing as 529 plans?

No. With a 529 plan, the parents are responsible for contributing money to the account in order to save for their child’s education expenses. Promise Scholarships would be state-funded and would not require parents to contribute any of their own money. Parents can choose to use a Promise Scholarship Account for education savings, such as saving for college tuition, but the account doesn’t have the same tax benefits that 529 plans do.


The program is a major step toward expanding access to quality education for every kid in Georgia.

The program is a major step toward expanding access to quality education for every kid in Georgia.


Do other states have education savings accounts? 

Yes, ten states have adopted some form of an education savings account program: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. As of March 2023, Arkansas became the eleventh state to adopt ESAs. 

In addition to Georgia, these other states are considering education savings account programs in 2023:

  • Idaho: Idaho’s Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would create an education savings account program for Idaho families. The bill is now headed to the Senate floor for debate and a potential vote.
  • Oklahoma: Governor Kevin Stitt recently endorsed education savings accounts to give Oklahoma parents at least $5,000 per child for schooling options. Two pieces of related legislation have been filed in the state senate. 
  • South Carolina: The South Carolina Senate passed a proposal to create education savings accounts that would give up to 15,000 students $6,000 for tuition, transportation, textbooks, and internet access. The bill is now headed to the House of Representatives.
  • Texas: Governor Greg Abbott has made school choice a priority for the 2023 legislative session, and he’s calling for the state to adopt education savings accounts to increase parental choice. 

Will SB 233 and Promise Scholarships take money away from Georgia’s public schools?

No. In fact, it’s possible for Georgia to fund both public schools and school choice programs at the same time. Promise Scholarships would give a portion of state per-pupil funding to parents. Remaining education dollars go back to public schools and can even lead to an increase in spending per-pupil public school spending. 

That has been the case in Arizona, which has one of the longest-running and most inclusive ESA programs. Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts award a total of $250 million ($7,000 per student), which amounts to 1.7% of the total $14.8 billion going to Arizona public schools in 2022-2023. Furthermore, for every ESA participant, approximately $600 is going back to Arizona’s public schools for teacher pay and other essential expenses.

Plus, while ESAs will be a good solution for certain families, many parents will continue to access education through their local public school. That means states will still need to prioritize sufficient funding for public schools. 

Will the Promise Scholarship Act (SB 233) help low-income families? 

Yes. One benefit of Education Savings Account programs is that they are one of the most equitable education choice methods out there. They give students from low-income families more opportunities to access schooling options that are often only available to families with greater financial resources.

Will the Promise Scholarship Act (SB 233) hurt homeschooling families? 

No. There are no provisions in the proposed law that would prevent homeschooling families from continuing this schooling option. Instead, SB 233 could make homeschooling an even more feasible option because families who qualify could use an account to pay for curriculum, courses, tutoring, or other educational resources that would enhance their homeschooling experience.

7 African-Americans Who Fought for Educational Opportunity

7 African-Americans Who Fought for Educational Opportunity

Black History Month School Choice

7 African-Americans Who Fought for Educational Opportunity

Key Points

  • Access to quality education is a top conversation in Georgia and many other states and has been for decades.
  • Stories of black educators offer inspiration for continuing to pursue better education opportunities for every kid. 
  • The examples set by African American educators remind us how critical education is for supporting kids’ mental health, preparing them for jobs, and helping them become active citizens in their communities.

No matter what chapter of history you look at, education is often one of the top issues that states and communities have wrestled with. Even today, Georgia is grappling with the reality that thousands of kids are stuck in underperforming schools, and change is needed if we are going to give them a chance to thrive. 

As we celebrate Black History Month this February, it’s a perfect time to look to the African American community for inspiration on the issue of education. Having suffered obstacles ranging from zero education access to segregation and racism in schools, numerous African Americans throughout our country’s history know firsthand the struggle—and the gift—that education can be. Many have dedicated themselves to the cause of education, driven by a shared passion and vision for giving every kid a quality education, regardless of their race or circumstance of their birth. 

Let’s meet a few of these leaders who dedicated their lives to fighting for more educational freedom and opportunity.   

  1. Charlotte Forten Grimké (1837-1914)

Charlotte Forten Grimké grew up in Philadelphia in a family well-known for its activism against slavery. In her early school years, she was taught at home by tutors. Because Philadelphia’s school system was segregated, Charlotte’s parents sent her to Salem, Massachusetts, where she could attend a more progressive school that accepted Black students. As an adult, Charlotte paid the opportunity of education forward. She attended teacher training school, and during the Civil War, she was the first Black teacher to work at the Penn School in South Carolina, a school established to teach African-American children both while they were enslaved and after they were freed. After the war, Charlotte worked for the Freedmen’s Union Commission and the U.S. Treasury Department to help recruit and train more African-American teachers. 


May those whose holy task it is,

To guide impulsive youth,

Fail not to cherish in their souls

A reverence for truth;

For teachings which the lips impart

Must have their source within the heart.

– From The Journal of Charlotte Forten, 1853

    1. Fanny Jackson Coppin (1837-1913)

    Fanny Jackson Coppin was born into slavery and was not freed until age 12. For the rest of her young adult years, she worked as a servant for author George Henry Calvert in Newport, Rhode Island. Fanny yearned for education, so she used her earnings to employ a tutor for about three hours a week. Thanks to her academic diligence and financial help from an aunt and the local African Methodist Church, Fanny entered Oberlin College, Ohio, which was the first college in the United States to enroll both black and female students. 

    It was at Oberlin College that Fanny embarked on her career as an educator—a vocation that would create learning opportunities for thousands of African Americans. While a student at Oberlin, she taught a free night class for African Americans in reading and writing. The College also appointed her to teach classes at their preparatory division, the Oberlin Academy, making Fanny the first black teacher among the Academy’s faculty. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 1865, becoming one of only three African American women to do so, she accepted a position at Philadelphia’s Institute for Colored Youth. Over the course of her career, Fanny would become the first African American woman to serve as a school principal and to fill the role of superintendent of a United States school district. 


    “I feel sometimes like a person to whom in childhood was entrusted some sacred flame…This is the desire to see my race lifted out of the mire of ignorance, weakness and degradation; no longer to sit in obscure corners and devour the scraps of knowledge which his superiors flung at him. I want to see him crowned with strength and dignity; adorned with the enduring grace of intellectual attainments.” – Fanny Jackson Coppin, writing to Frederick Douglass in 1876

    1. Inez Beverly Prosser (1895-1934)

    Inez Beverly Prosser was born into a family that highly valued education. Opportunities were scarce for African American kids during Inez’s childhood, and her family moved often in search of the best education available for Inez and her 10 siblings. Inez’s schooling led her to earn a teaching certificate, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree in educational psychology. 

    Inez had a deep passion for education and believed in its power to change lives. She held various roles as a teacher and assistant principal in segregated schools, but her interest in psychology set her apart from other educators. She devoted herself to understanding and improving the educational and psychological development of African American students. In 1933, she became one of the first black women to earn a PhD in psychology. Her research undertook a pioneering and bold examination of segregation’s impact on black students’ social, psychological, and educational development. Findings and arguments from her dissertation were cited in the larger debate about school segregation, carving out a legacy for Inez as one of the leading advocates for the educational and mental health of African American kids.  


    “I am interested in that type of research which will lead to better teaching in elementary and high schools.” – Inez Beverly Prosser

    “Many have dedicated themselves to the cause of education, driven by a shared passion and vision for giving every kid a quality education, regardless of their race or circumstance of their birth.”

    “Many have dedicated themselves to the cause of education, driven by a shared passion and vision for giving every kid a quality education, regardless of their race or circumstance of their birth.”

    1. Kelly Miller (1863-1939) 

    From his early school days, Kelly Miller showed a talent for math. After an impressive academic career spanning the study of math, sociology, Latin, and Greek, Kelly received a bachelor’s degree from Howard University. He became the first black man to be accepted into Johns Hopkins University for post-graduate work in mathematics, physics, and astronomy. 

    However, Kelly was forced to leave Johns Hopkins when the school increased its fees, and he returned to Howard University where he took a teaching job and continued his own education, earning advanced degrees in math and law. In 1907, Kelly became the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard. His passion for education motivated him to modernize the College’s curriculum and to tour states across the South in recruitment of new students. Under his leadership, enrollment tripled, and curriculum improved. 

    “The instruction which you have received here, and upon which your diplomas set a seal, will be of value to you only in so far as you digest and assimilate it, and wisely adapt it to the tasks which lie before you.” — Kelly Miller

    1. Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879-1961)

    Nannie Helen Burroughs was born in Virginia, and after her father’s death, she moved to Washington, D.C., with her mother where she completed high school and graduated with honors. While Nannie’s career began with roles in secretarial and bookkeeping work, education would eventually become her focus. 

    Her mark in education was a unique one: Nannie wanted to help poor, working African American women. She believed that these women should have opportunities to learn skills beyond domestic work, so in 1909, she founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in partnership with the National Baptist Convention and through the support of small donations from the black community. The school provided job training and academic instruction to young black women, giving them the option to enter the workforce and pursue careers. The school was one of the first of its kind in the early 20th century, and Nannie served as its president until her death in 1961. 


    “To struggle and battle and overcome and absolutely defeat every force designed against us is the only way to achieve.” — Nannie Helen Burroughs

    1. Esau Jenkins (1910-1972) 

    Esau Jenkins was a shining example of how community members can contribute to improving education for underserved kids. Having grown up in the era of segregation, Esau knew what it was like not to have access to educational opportunities. If he had anything to do with it, the kids in his South Carolina community would not have to suffer the same injustice. 

    So, Esau and his wife used part of their income to buy a bus to transport their own kids and fellow children on South Carolina’s Sea Islands to schools in Charleston. Esau also used his bus to help adult workers get to their jobs. During these rides, he and his wife would teach the workers about the U.S. Constitution and other information that was required to pass literacy exams and become a registered voter. This experience showed Esau that a better approach to adult education was desperately needed, and he founded the first Citizenship School on Johns Island to provide more structured education for adults, including instruction in basic literacy and politics. Thanks to his efforts, thousands of African Americans became registered voters. 

    Even while supporting adult education, Esau’s motivation to help kids did not falter. In 1951, Esau played a key role in establishing Haut Gap School on Johns Island so that the youth in that community would have a quality education option. Today, Haut Gap is a middle school that functions as a magnet school—a type of public school option that specializes in certain curriculum areas, such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), the arts, or vocational training.


    “It takes a pretty large person to love. Any small person can hate.” – Esau Jenkins


    1. Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987) 

    Septima Poinsette Clark’s legacy was that of a community teacher. Septima grew up in Charleston, South Carolina—a place where the lines of segregation and class were strictly and harshly drawn, especially when it came to education. Septima was a bright student. After sixth grade, she tested directly into ninth grade at the Avery Institute and graduated from high school in 1916. Financial constraints prevented her from attending college, but even without a degree, she passed the state examination that allowed her to teach. 

    Charleston did not allow African Americans to teach in its public schools, so Septima took a teaching job in the rural community of Johns Island just outside of Charleston. Throughout her 40 years as an educator, Septima had various jobs where she would teach children during the day. At night, on her own time, she would teach African American adults how to read and write and, in the process, she developed several innovative methods to help them pick up these skills more quickly. Septima believed that literacy and citizenship went hand-in-hand, so as she taught basic literacy skills, she also helped adults learn about their rights and become informed, registered voters. Through her work, she became an influential civil rights leader and activist, known as “The Mother of the Movement” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others. 


    “What we are working for is an educational program that has become a resource and rallying point for scores of brave southerners who are leading the fight for justice and better race relations in these crucial days.”

    5 Reasons Why It’s a Good Idea to Expand Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship

    5 Reasons Why It’s a Good Idea to Expand Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship

    5 Reasons Why It’s a Good Idea to Expand Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship

    Key Points

    • Georgia legislators are considering a 2023 proposal to increase the cap for Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program.
    • The communities’ positive response to the scholarship has created a demand for more students to participate.

    • Raising the cap on Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program would help students, parents, and the state’s overall education system.

    Georgia legislators are considering a 2023 proposal to increase the cap for Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program. Through this program, businesses and individuals can donate toward private school scholarships for K-12 students enrolled in public schools. In return, they receive a dollar-for-dollar state income tax credit. 

    In 2022, the state Legislature raised the cap by $20 million, bringing it up to $120 million from $100 million. But that increase hasn’t proven large enough to keep up with communities’ positive response. 

    “It’s clear that demand for the program is strong. The existing $120 million cap was met on the very first day of applications this year,” noted Buzz Brockway, Vice President of Public Policy at the Georgia Center for Opportunity. “Georgia families are demanding more options, and lawmakers would be wise to take notice.”

    Here are a few reasons why raising the cap on Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program would help students, parents, and the state’s overall education system: 

    1. The Tax Credit Scholarship Program makes private school access more equitable. Traditionally, private schools have been an education option only for families who could afford the tuition and fees. These costs often put private schools out of reach for lower and middle-income households. Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program alleviates some of this inequity by making private school scholarships available to K-12 public school students in need. As a result, more families can look at private schools as a viable option when the local public school isn’t the best fit for their child.

    But what about families in rural areas? Aren’t tax credit scholarship programs biased toward urban or suburban areas where there are more private schools? According to a 2017 national study by The Brookings Institute, 69% of families living in rural areas have a private school within 10 miles. Increasing the program cap for Georgia’s tax credit scholarships would help rural Georgia families in this situation. For those that aren’t, there’s still a benefit: Growing the tax credit scholarship program is a way to encourage more private schools to launch and fill education gaps in areas where options are fewer and farther between. 

    1. Raising the program cap makes it possible to serve more kids. This point is critical because 500,000 Georgia students are currently in schools that are underperforming or simply aren’t meeting their specific needs. Increasing the program cap means more families could enjoy the flexibility to consider one of Georgia’s 824 private schools when seeking out educational environments that match their kid’s learning style, their personal values, or other preferences. In 2021, 17,440 scholarships were awarded to eligible students. Imagine how many more kids we could help if Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program expanded to $200 million!
    1. Expanding our tax credit scholarship program would bring Georgia up-to-date with other states. Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Iowa, and Nevada have all taken note of the growing popularity of tax credit scholarships and have responded by increasing caps on their various programs. Whether it’s tax credit scholarships or other vehicles like Education Savings Accounts, the momentum to embrace more education choice programs is building across many states. It’s time for Georgia to catch up. An easy way to do that? Raise our state’s tax credit scholarship cap. 

    Growing the tax credit scholarship program is a way to encourage more private schools to launch and fill education gaps in areas where options are fewer and farther between. 

    Growing the tax credit scholarship program is a way to encourage more private schools to launch and fill education gaps in areas where options are fewer and farther between. 

    1. It’s one option to relieve parents’ frustration with one-size-fits-all education options. A recent poll of 5,000 parents, conducted by the Harris Poll, revealed that 20% of parents switched schools for their kids during the pandemic. The pandemic itself is a tired topic, but the trend it introduced in education isn’t: Over the last two years, parents’ desire for more education options has skyrocketed as many of them realize that traditional public schools don’t work for every kid. 

    By investing in educational choice programs, we can guarantee families access to a variety of stellar learning experiences that help their children reach great heights—academically, socially, vocationally…the list goes on. Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program makes private schools one of these meaningful options, regardless of where families live or how much they earn. 

    1. Increasing education tax credits gets more businesses and individuals involved in our kids’ futures. A quality education, tailored to a student’s unique needs, prepares kids for the workplace, for community involvement, and for life. That’s why education is more than a parental concern—it should be a community priority. We all benefit when kids have access to the education option that will help them become healthy, successful citizens, employees, relatives, and friends as they grow up. Georgia’s Tax Credit Scholarship gives our communities—both businesses and taxpayers—a way to directly invest in K-12 education and ensure bright futures for our students. By raising the program cap, we can expand the investment opportunities available to current donors and to new businesses and individuals who want to get involved.  

    Learn more about education choice in Georgia

    EVERY Kid In Georgia Deserves
    A Quality Education

    Related Reading: Georgia School Choice In the News

    Georgia students need more schooling choices (GCO in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    Renewed push to expand Georgia’s private school tuition subsidies (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) 

    Proposed bill would increase Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program cap (The Center Square)

    School choice in 2023: 10 states to watch (Washington Examiner)