Education Options in the States: State Programs That Provide Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Elementary or Secondary Schools
Revised February 2009
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8. Georgia—Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program

Program type: Scholarships to students with disabilities

Description: This program provides scholarships to students with disabilities. To be eligible for this scholarship, a student must have spent a prior year in attendance at a Georgia public school, be determined under IDEA as an eligible student with a disability, and shall have had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) written by the school in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations. Parents disappointed with their children's current public school's program will have the option to send their children to a private or public school that best meets the needs of their children. Parents may choose to keep their children in their new school until they graduate or they turn 21, whichever comes first. Parents are responsible for transporting their children to the new school.

Amount of assistance: The student receives a scholarship for the same amount their public school received for them, or the cost of tuition and fees, whichever is less.

Number of participants: In the 2007-08 school year, 115 private schools enrolled 908 scholarship students.6

Authorizing statute: Georgia Code: Title 20, Chapter 2, Article 33

Legislative history: On May 18, 2007, the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act was signed into law, making this the first scholarship program in Georgia.

Judicial history: No legal suits have been filed regarding the program.

For more information, see:

9. Georgia—Georgia Tax Credit for Private School Costs and Scholarship Donations

Program type: Tax credits for contributions to scholarship organizations

Description: This program allows eligible citizens and corporations to receive tax credits for their donations to Georgia Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs). SSOs provide student scholarships to parents that help cover the cost of their children's attendance at qualified private schools in the state of Georgia. Eligible SSOs must be charitable organizations exempt from federal income taxation under Sec. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and must allocate at least 90 percent of their annual revenue for scholarships or tuition grants to allow students to attend the qualified private school of their parents' choice. Private schools are considered qualified if they meet the following criteria: accredited by a state-approved accreditation agency; physically located in Georgia; adhere to provisions of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964; and satisfy the private school requirements prescribed in Georgia state law.

Amount of assistance: The amount of the tax credit for a single individual or a head of household is the actual amount expended or $1,000 per tax year, whichever is less. The amount of the tax credit for a married couple filing a joint tax return is the actual amount expended or $2,500 per tax year, whichever is less. The amount of the tax credit for corporations is the actual amount expended or 75 percent of the corporation's total income tax liability, whichever is less. Tax credits are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and the aggregate amount of tax credits may not exceed $50 million per tax year.

Number of participants: This is a new program that began with the 2008 taxable year that started Jan. 1, 2008. Data are not yet available on the numbers of participating students and SSOs in the 2007-08 or 2008-09 school years.

Authorizing statute: Georgia Code: Title 20, Chapter 2A and Georgia Code: Title 48, Chapter 7, Article 29.16

Legislative history: The tax credit program was signed into law in 2008 and first implemented in the 2008 taxable year.

Judicial history: No legal suits have been filed regarding the program.

For more information, see:

6 Data are reported in the 2007-2008 Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS) Summer Information, November 2007, by the Georgia Department of Education.

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Last Modified: 04/30/2009