Education savings accounts in Georgia empower parents to customize their child's education.

Everything to Know About Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in Georgia

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Key Points

  • Education plays a powerful role in breaking the cycle of poverty and helping children lead healthy, flourishing lives. Education savings accounts in Georgia are a solution to help more kids get the benefits of a quality education. 
  • Georgia’s education savings account program is the Promise Scholarship. Starting in fall 2025, it will give eligible families $6,500 scholarships to access the education option that best meets their child’s needs. 
  • Education savings accounts, or ESAs, in Georgia can have several positive impacts on communities, including better support for public schools, less crime, and greater upward mobility. 

Education is an essential building block for a healthy, flourishing life. It has the power to break the cycle of poverty that can persist across generations.

When children from impoverished backgrounds receive a quality education, they’re more likely to escape poverty themselves and provide better opportunities for future generations. 

Good education goes hand-in-hand with many other positive outcomes—like better jobs, higher personal income, valuable relationships, better physical health, and a longer life. 

We all want these good things for children in our communities. Education savings accounts are one solution that Georgia can use to increase opportunity and prosperity for students who need it most.

What are education savings accounts?

Education savings accounts, also called ESAs, give parents a portion of state education funding that they can use to tailor their child’s education if traditional public school isn’t a good fit.

ESA programs expand education opportunity by giving parents greater flexibility and freedom in education choices. Whether a family prefers homeschooling, private schooling, or other alternatives, ESAs let parents access the best type of education for their child’s unique needs and interests.

The Georgia Promise Scholarship helps students in low-performing public schools access education options for their needs.

Get Started With Georgia’s ESA Program: The Georgia Promise Scholarship

Georgia is getting ready to launch Promise Scholarships in the fall of 2025. If you’re interested in enrolling your child, make sure you’re signed up to hear about next steps.

How do ESAs work?

To create education savings accounts programs, states must first pass a law. States then take a portion of what they would have spent on the student’s public school education and put it into a state-administered account.

Parents can use these funds for a range of education expenses—tuition, tutoring, homeschooling curriculum, educational therapies, online programs, or even a combination of educational services. States require parents to complete an application process to switch to an ESA. 

What do families get from education savings accounts in Georgia?

  • Flexibility: ESAs let parents customize their kid’s education.
  • Financial Support: ESAs allow states to expand access to options that families may not be able to afford otherwise. 
  • Empowerment: Parents can take charge of their child’s education journey with confidence.
  • Diverse Options: Parents can explore various educational paths that suit their child’s needs and interests.

What is Georgia’s ESA program?

Created in 2024, Georgia’s ESA program is the Georgia Promise Scholarship. It provides state-funded scholarship accounts that give eligible families $6,500 per student for each school year.

The program will be available starting in the 2025-2026 school year, and it will be limited to students in the lowest-performing public schools.

Child raising hand in classroom

Georgia’s Promise Scholarship Explained
Find out what the program is, how it works, and which students will be eligible. 

Who do education savings account help in Georgia?   

ESAs are for all kinds of students. Whether a child is struggling in school or has special learning needs, ESAs can help. Georgia’s ESA program, the Promise Scholarship, is specifically designed to help families who may not have the resources to access better opportunities. 

Students in Underperforming Schools

Thousands of Georgia kids are stuck in public schools that have received a failing grade from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. To help these kids in particular, the Promise Scholarship will be for students in the bottom 25% of Georgia’s public schools. With an ESA, these students can access higher-quality education options that prepare them for successful careers and fulfilling lives.  

Low-Income Students

Choosing a different school or educational path has often been a privilege for wealthier families. What about families that struggle to make ends meet? 

With an ESA, low-income families can consider schooling options that may be out of reach otherwise. The Georgia Promise Scholarship makes sure these students are helped first. Available scholarships will go to families below 400% of the federal poverty level (around $120,000/year for a family of four). Any leftover funding can then serve students above that threshold. 

Students With Special Needs

ESA programs are a lifeline for students who need support beyond what their local public school can provide. ESAs make it possible to access schools that are set up to help students who have unique learning needs and disabilities. ESA funds can also help pay for other essential resources like tutoring, therapies, and learning technologies. 

Homeschooling Families

ESAs don’t just cover school tuition. They can pay for curriculum, online programs, and supplies, giving parents the option to fully customize their child’s education. This flexibility means that ESAs can help families who want to homeschool as an alternative to public or private schools. 

What kind of impact could ESAs have on communities in Georgia? 

Since Georgia’s ESA program, the Georgia Promise Scholarship, is new, it will be a few years before we know its exact impact on our communities. But we can get an idea from other states that have ESAs, including a couple of Georgia’s neighbors.

  • Better support for public schools: In 2011, Arizona became the first state to adopt ESAs. The state soon found that the program was helping to redirect state and federal dollars back to public schools where it could be used for teacher pay and operational needs.

  • Better outcomes for low-income students: Created in 2019, Florida’s ESA program is now the largest in the country. A November 2023 study of Florida’s education system looked at the impact of growing school choice. It found students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds—including those who stayed in public schools—experienced some of the greatest benefits.

  • Better economic opportunity and healthier societies: Tennessee is still working to expand its ESA program, but a study from the Beacon Center of Tennessee found that a statewide program could have incredible social impact. Their model predicted that Tennessee could have more high school graduates, higher overall personal income, less criminal activity and fewer felons, and $2.9 billion in economic benefits.

Do parents want education savings accounts in Georgia? 

Overall, Americans are worried about the direction of public K-12 education. 

  • Half of Americans think it’s moving in the wrong direction. 
  • 82% of teachers say the state of public K-12 education has worsened in the last five years. 
  • Only 46% of school parents in Georgia think K-12 education is on the right track in the state of Georgia. 

It’s not surprising, then, that Georgia parents are open to more school choice policies: 76% of Georgia school parents say they’re in favor of an ESA program.

A majority of school parents in Georgia think it's a good idea to have education savings accounts in Georgia.

What are common concerns about education savings accounts in Georgia?

Concern: ESAs take funding away from public schools.  

Georgia communities don’t have to worry about this because state lawmakers are not using public school funding for the Georgia Promise Scholarship. Promise Scholarship funding is also not allowed to exceed 1% of public school funding. This set-up means public school funding is fully protected. 

In general, more research is showing that, when states invest in school choice programs like ESAs, public schools benefit financially and academically. They have more per-pupil funding, less budgetary pressure, and better student outcomes

Concern: ESAs favor wealthy families and don’t help kids who actually need the opportunity. 

Quality education is a building block of a healthy, flourishing life, regardless of a family’s financial situation. ESAs are a tool states can use to ensure there’s more equality when it comes to education opportunities. 

Even if an ESA program is universal—where every student is eligible—the students who gain the most opportunities are those most in need. Here in Georgia, our ESA program, the Promise Scholarship, limits eligibility to students in low-income households to make sure they get helped first. 

Concern: ESAs are just another private school voucher. 

Education savings accounts can be used for private school tuition but also for much more! Unlike private school scholarships, ESAs can be used for a wider range of education expenses—including tuition, tutoring, online programs, education therapies, curriculum, and textbooks. 

Concern: ESAs don’t help families in rural areas. 

Rural areas may not have as many schools to choose from, but thanks to the flexibility of ESAs, this doesn’t have to be a reason for states to avoid ESA programs.

Take Tanya Schlegel’s story, for example. Tanya is a mom of two kids with special needs living in rural Georgia. Despite her best efforts to work with the local public school, it just isn’t equipped to give special needs students the help they need. An ESA would give her the resources to homeschool and access specialized therapies so that her kids can have the type of education that matches their needs. 

Georgia ESAs: Quick Facts

  • Georgia is one of 16 states with an ESA program. 
  • 10 states have universal ESA programs, meaning all students are eligible. Georgia is not yet one of them. 
  • Georgia’s ESAs are worth $6,500 per student per school year.
  • 76% of school parents in Georgia support ESAs.

Interested in Georgia’s ESA program? 

Go here to sign up for updates as the Georgia Promise Scholarship gets up and running. 

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