ATLANTA (March 7, 2013) – A bill clarifying the requirements and reporting process for student scholarship organizations, including eligibility, audit procedures and fund distribution, passed the Georgia State Senate today by a vote of 54 to 0. Senate Bill 243 was sponsored by Sen. Charlie Bethel (R – Dalton).
“I applaud Governor Deal’s commitment to creating a more open and transparent educational environment in Georgia, and it was a privilege to carry this bill in the Senate,” said Sen. Bethel.
Under current law, a student is eligible to receive a scholarship or tuition grant from a student scholarship organization (SSO) if the student is a Georgia resident enrolled in a Georgia secondary or primary public school. Students will remain eligible for SSO scholarships until he or she graduates from high school, reaches the age of 20, or returns to public school.
SB 243 would expand qualifications and require a Georgia student to be enrolled in and attend a Georgia secondary or primary public school for at least six weeks before being eligible for a scholarship or tuition grant. The six-week timeframe is meant to ensure students who choose to attend a private school under the SSO program are not a part of the full time equivalent (FTE) count for public school funding.
SB 243 would also enact the following provisions:
- Require SSOs to designate a certain revenue percent for scholarships and tuition grants based on annual revenue and donations before the end of the calendar year in which it was received
- Require SSOs to consider the financial need of students when awarding scholarships and tuition grants
- Maintains SSO audits with verification of all legal requirements, including financial requirements, and provide a copy of audit findings to the Department of Revenue
- Required reporting of approved individual and corporate contributions and tax credits, the total number and dollar value of scholarships awarded, and a full list of donors
- Expands the prohibition of tax credits to be designated for the direct benefit of any individual
SB 243 will now travel to the Georgia House of Representatives for consideration.