Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program

  • Voucher
  • 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.

Jump Links

  • 5,788

    Participating Students (2021-22)

  • 12%

    of Students Eligible Statewide

  • 273

    Participating Schools (2021-22)

  • $6,590

    Average Account Value (2021-22)

  • 54%

    Value as a Percentage of Public School Per-student Spending

Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship Program Participation

Students Participating
School Year Ending

Student Funding

 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. 

(Last updated December 18, 2023) 

Student Eligibility

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 or a Section 504 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—active-duty military exempted from one-year residential requirement. 

(Last updated December 18, 2023) 

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 or 504 plans. About one in eight Georgia students are eligible to receive a scholarship. Statewide, one 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 $6,600, which is about 54 percent of the average expenditure per student at Georgia’s district schools. 

With the passage of SB 47, Georgia policymakers took a major step in expanding flexibility of parent use for the scholarship, though stopping short of a full-fledged ESA. Parents may apply the scholarship to tuition; fees for student assessment; uniforms; physical therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy; transportation provided by the participating school; meals; summer school programs; tutoring; and other materials, services or activities as authorized by the department. 

In order to expand access to educational choice, Georgia policymakers should convert the vouchers into full education savings accounts and expand them to serve all students. Georgia’s voucher program generally avoids unnecessary and counterproductive regulations. 

(Last updated December 18, 2023) 

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
  • Annual parental satisfaction survey conducted by Department of Education

School Requirements:

  • 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

(Last updated December 18, 2023) 

Governing Statutes

O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-2110 through 2118

(Last updated December 18, 2023)