Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program
- Enacted 2007
- Launched 2007
The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program allows any student with a disability whose parents are unhappy with their assigned public school to receive a voucher to attend private school. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history and more.
We do not administer this program.
Participating Students (2020–21)
of Students Eligible Statewide
Participating Schools (2020–21)
Average Account Value (2020–21)
Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending
Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship Program Participation
Vouchers are worth up to the cost of the educational program a student would have received in public school, as calculated by the services the student received in the local school district as well as existing state funding formulas. The voucher may not exceed the private school’s tuition and fees.
To qualify, a student must have been enrolled in a Georgia public school for the entire previous school year. Preschool programs do not count toward this eligibility factor. The student must also have received special education services under an Individualized Education Plan at any point in that year, and those services must be reflected in the student’s local district’s October or May student count. The student’s parent or guardian must live in Georgia currently and have been a resident for at least one year.
EdChoice Expert Feedback
Georgia’s voucher for students with disabilities helps thousands of students access schools that are the right fit for them, but policymakers could do more to expand educational opportunity.
Eligibility for the scholarships is limited to students with special needs who have IEPs. About 1 in 8 Georgia students are eligible to receive a scholarship. Statewide, 1 percent of students participate in one of Georgia’s private educational choice options (including the Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit).
The average scholarship size is about $6,500, which is about 54 percent of the average expenditure per student at Georgia’s district schools.
In order to expand access to educational choice, Georgia policymakers should convert the vouchers into education savings accounts and expand them to serve all students.
Georgia’s voucher program generally avoids unnecessary and counterproductive regulations.
Rules and Regulations
- Income Limit: None
- Prior Year Public School Requirement: Yes
- Geographic Limit: Statewide
- Enrollment Cap: None
- Voucher Cap: Conditional
- Testing Mandates: Pre- and post-assessments
- *Limited to students with special needs
- Notify state regarding intention to participate
- Demonstrate financial viability
- Comply with federal nondiscrimination requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 2000(d)
- Comply with state health and safety requirements
- Be accredited or in the process of becoming accredited
- Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree or three years’ experience in Education or Health
- Provide parents with teachers’ credentials
- Report to parents and state regarding students’ academic progress
No legal challenges have been filed against the program.
Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program State Groups
That Support School Choice
The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s mission is to remove barriers to ensure that every person—no matter their race, past mistakes, or the circumstances of their birth—has access to a quality education.