State Policy Network
Georgia Passes State’s First ESA Program 

The Georgia Governor signed legislation that creates an Education Savings Account (ESA) program in the Peach State. Called “Promise Scholarships,” the program will give students in low-performing schools the opportunity to apply for funds that can be used to pay for education-related items, including books, uniforms, and even private school tuition.  

The Promise Scholarship Act, or SB233, will give scholarships of $6,500 to students in the bottom performing 25% of schools. The program will start next year and be capped at 1% of the state’s education formula for the previous year, or $141 million in 2025.  

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation and Georgia Center for Opportunity Helped Advance Promise Scholarships in the Peach State  

The Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) and Georgia Public Policy Foundation, two nonprofit policy organizations in the state, played a pivotal role in advancing this new law.  

GCO and the Foundation ran statewide awareness campaigns to inform the public and lawmakers about the benefits of education freedom—and in particular how Promise Scholarships would help Georgia families, especially those from low-income communities. Both organizations met with legislators and were a valuable resource to lawmakers as they considered advancing an ESA program in the state.  

In addition to GCO and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, 50CAN (Georgia chapter) the American Federation for Children, Americans for Prosperity (Georgia chapter), EdChoice, ExcelinEd, and Yes. Every Kid. Foundation were involved in this win, among many other organizations.  

The Promise Scholarship Act: Empowering Parents with More Education Choices  

Across the country, parents are longing for more choices when it comes to their children’s education. While many public schools do an excellent job of preparing students for a meaningful career and life, thousands of schools fail to give students the tools they need to succeed.  

What’s more, it’s often students from low-income families who are trapped in these under performing schools. Wealthier families can afford to send their children to an alternative such as a private or religious school. Poorer families don’t always have the resources to do so, giving them only one option when it comes to their education.  

School choice policies like the Promise Scholarship Act in Georgia give these families something they’ve never had before: More learning options. With the Promise Scholarship in hand, Georgia families in the bottom performing 25% of schools now have the means to give their child a quality education that best fits their unique needs.  

Randy Hicks, President and CEO at the Georgia Center for Opportunity, added: 

“Passing Promise Scholarships is a momentous milestone for thousands of Georgia kids struggling in 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. Even with this victory, there’s more work to do. We look forward to building on this foundation so that every Georgia child is able to access quality education without restrictions of income, race, zip code, or other life circumstances.” 

A First Step Towards Universal Education Freedom in Georgia 

As Hicks points out, GCO will continue to work until all families in the state can access Promise Scholarships, not just children in low-performing schools. In the coming months, GCO and the Foundation will highlight the benefit of ESA programs and encourage Georgia lawmakers to expand the program so all students in the state are eligible, which is also referred to as “universal” education choice.  

Ten states now have universal education freedom programs: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Utah. 

School Choice Movement Rolls on in the States  

Georgia is yet another state that advanced some form of an Education Savings Account program in the last few years. Wyoming just passed a similar policy, giving students from low-income families in the Cowboy State access to an ESA. And on March 8, Alabama passed the CHOOSE Act, which gives all students in the state access to an ESA they can use to customize their education. Louisiana is also poised to advance education freedom in the coming months.  

Related Reading:  

Georgia Passes Promise Scholarships and Expands Education Opportunity
Georgia Center for Opportunity

Georgia Public Policy Foundation Applauds Gov. Kemp for Signing Georgia Promise Scholarship Act
Georgia Public Policy Foundation

General Assembly send Promise Scholarship Act to Governor 
Georgia Public Policy Foundation 

Promise Scholarships (Georgia’s Education Savings Accounts) Cross A Major Hurdle 
Georgia Center for Opportunity 

Everything You Need to Know About Education Savings Accounts 
State Policy Network  

Alabama Passes Universal School Choice 
State Policy Network  

Rural Republicans Embrace School Choice 
American Federation for Children’s Corey DeAngeis in The Wall Street Journal 

Education Freedom in 2024: 5 States to Watch 
State Policy Network  

Georgia’s School Choice Revival 
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board  

Organization: State Policy Network