Georgia significantly expanded school choice options for families this week when Governor Brian Kemp signed the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act. Promise Scholarships will provide education savings accounts to families who have been stuck in low-performing public schools, so they can choose and afford flexible and responsive education options.

Governor Kemp clearly stated his support for passing education freedom legislation earlier this year during his January 2024 State of the State Address. He told legislators, “At the end of the day, our first and foremost consideration should be the future of [a] student. Our job is not to decide for each family, but to support them in making the best choice for their child.” He also encouraged state legislators to “get around a table and agree on the best path forward to provide our kids the best educational opportunities we can – because that’s what we were elected to do.”

Promise Scholarships will provide education savings accounts (ESAs) worth $6,500 for each eligible child. They will be limited to students who are entering kindergarten or have attended at least two consecutive semesters at an eligible public school. Eligible public schools are in the state’s lowest 25% for academic achievement. Education savings accounts are state-funded flexible spending accounts that can be used for private school tuition, homeschooling expenses, therapy, tutoring, and college-level courses for high school students.

The program will prioritize students from households with an income level of four times the federal poverty level. Funding for the program will be capped at $141 million, which will provide approximately 21,500 scholarships. The legislature will fund the program separately from the state’s public school funding formula.

Legislative leadership of both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly managed to pass the school choice bill this session after encountering roadblocks in the House in past years. Seven House Republicans and a Democrat who opposed last year’s version of the bill changed their vote and supported creating the Promise Scholarship Program this year. 

Thanks to the commitment of Georgia’s legislative leaders and Gov. Kemp’s determination to “get a bill passed and signed into law this session,” Georgia families now have more leverage over their children’s education. Promise Scholarships, as well as the existing Special Needs Scholarship Program and Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit, empower Georgia’s parents to direct their children’s educational path. Parents and students whose needs have not been met by residentially-assigned schools now have the freedom to find responsive education options for their children.

We applaud Governor Kemp’s and Georgia state legislators’ commitment to education freedom and look forward to seeing additional education freedom expansions in the Peach State soon.