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

by | Blog stories, Education, School Choice | 0 comments

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)

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