Georgia - Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit

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Georgia – Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit

Georgia – Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit

Georgia’s Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit, a tax-credit scholarship program, was enacted and launched in 2008 to help students in public school access schools that best fit their needs. Learn more about the program’s details on this page, including eligibility, funding, regulations, legal history, and more.

Program Fast Facts

  • 13,895 scholarships awarded (2018)

  • 89 percent of students eligible statewide

  • 26 scholarship organizations awarding scholarships (2018)

  • Average scholarship value: $4,008 (2018)

  • Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending:42 percent

Program Details

Georgia’s Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit Participation

Students Participating
Calendar Year

Click the + symbols to learn more about this program’s details.

Georgia offers tax credits to donors supporting Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs), nonprofits that provide private school scholarships to students in need.

Student Funding

Scholarship amounts are determined by SSOs, capped only by the average state and local expenditures per child for public elementary and secondary education in the entire state. For 2019, scholarships were capped at $10,387.

Student Eligibility

All public school students are eligible if they attended a public school for at least six weeks immediately prior to receiving a scholarship, as are students who are enrolling in prekindergarten, kindergarten or first grade. Eligibility continues until a student graduates, reaches age 20 or returns to public school. SSOs may set their own additional eligibility guidelines.

EdChoice Expert Feedback

Georgia’s tax-credit scholarship program has the opportunity to be one of the most expansive, successful programs in the country, as there are no arbitrary eligibility requirements. Unfortunately, although the state legislature recently raised the cap on available tax credits, the cap still limits the number of scholarships to less than 2 percent of students statewide (assuming the same average scholarship value). Raising the cap substantially and adding a strong automatic escalator of the cap as contributions rise to meet demand would be an appropriate improvement, given the strong demand for scholarships and the impressive generosity of individual donors in Georgia. The program does benefit from a generous allowance on the size of individual scholarships, which can equal the average funding amount per student in Georgia public schools. Moreover, the program requires that schools be physically located in the state, obey nondiscrimination laws and satisfy the normal requirements to be a licensed private school in Georgia, but otherwise avoids unnecessary regulations.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Yes
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Scholarship Cap: $10,387 (2019)
  • Testing Mandates: None
  • Credit Value: 100 percent
  • Total Credit Cap: $1,000 for individuals, $2,500 for married couples, 75 percent of state liability for businesses
  • Budget Cap: $100 million

 

SSO Requirements:

  • Use at least 90 percent of contributions for scholarships
  • Make scholarships available for more than one school
  • Have an independent board of directors
  • Ensure donors cannot designate their donation to any particular individual student
  • Not also function as or be affiliated with an accrediting agency
  • Submit annually to the state:
    • Data on accepted contributions and tax credits approved
    • Independent review of financial statements by a certified public accountant
    • Total number of students and total dollar value of scholarships awarded each year
    • Average scholarship amount by Federal Poverty Level brackets
  • Publicly disclose annually:
    • Total number of scholarships approved
    • Total number and amount of donations received
    • Average household income of scholarship recipients

Governing Statutes

O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2A-1 through 7 and 48-7-29.16

Legal History

On June 26, 2017, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a complaint originally filed in April 2014 by four Georgia residents backed by the Southern Education Foundation, alleging that the tax-credit scholarship program violates the state constitution’s ban on providing public support to religious institutions and several other constitutional provisions.

At the trial court level, the court affirmed the constitutionality of the program, observing that the tax credit would not “increase their taxes or drain the state treasury” and that “the Program may actually save the state money.” Gaddy v. Georgia Department of Revenue, No. 2014 CV 2445538 (Fulton County Super. Ct. Feb. 5, 2016). On appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs had no standing to sue. Gaddy v. Georgia Department of Revenue, 802 S.E.2d 225 (2017).

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