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GCO applauds signing of Promise Scholarships bill, says more work needs to be done

PEACHTREE CORNERS, GA—Today, the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) applauded Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia legislature for ushering into law the Promise Scholarships bill that will bring much-needed relief to the over half-a-million low- and middle-income kids stuck in low-performing schools.

“We are thankful to Gov. Kemp and the many House and Senate lawmakers who recognized the urgency of the moment and advanced a bill to provide much-needed opportunity to bolster academic options,” said Buzz Brockway, GCO’s vice president of public policy. “Passing Promise Scholarships is a momentous milestone for tens of thousands of Georgia kids struggling in a system that doesn’t work for them. It recognizes that Georgia is a diverse state with a diverse set of needs for education. After years of work, this bill is a positive step toward shaping an education system that honors every child’s unique situation and prevents a lack of quality education from locking children and communities into poverty.”

Senate Bill 233 will make students from the lowest performing 25% of public schools eligible to receive $6,500 a year set aside in an account. Parents can then use the funds to cover approved educational expenses, including private school tuition, books, uniforms, and even transportation.

SB 233 also gives first priority 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.

Promise Scholarships will serve an estimated 21,500 kids when the program goes live for the 2025-2026 school year.

Georgia now joins a growing list of states offering educational options for all students. In the Southeast, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina have recently enacted universal Education Savings Account programs, while South Carolina is in the process of creating a universal program in the coming years.

“The urgency to create an education lifeline for kids can’t be overstated. Education is a basic need. Lack of access to quality options is a major cause of many of the ills in our society, including putting a cap on upward mobility. A lack of quality education locks children into poverty and prevents communities from thriving,” said Brockway.

Although GCO praised passage of Promise Scholarships, Randy Hicks, GCO’s president and CEO, cautioned that the bill is just a first step.

“Unfortunately, the final compromise bill was watered down in a number of ways that will limit its reach,” said Hicks. “Funding for Promise Scholarships is capped to 1% of public school funding and there is a 10-year sunset on the entire program. It’s a positive step that over 20,000 students will be eligible for educational freedom, that number is a drop in the bucket compared to the need. We will continue building on this foundation for the future so that all of Georgia’s schoolchildren have options.”



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.

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