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The Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit has been amended over the years to provide more transparency and oversight. As of this year, it is still one of the most private and restricted laws in the country.

2008

Earl Ehrhart, David Casas, Ed Lindsey and other Georgia State Representatives sponsor HB 1133, the Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit.

The credit is capped at $50 million per year, and no information is posted publicly except a list of SSOs.

2009

Gov. Sonny Perdue pushes for sweeping reforms, including requiring SSOs to get background checks, report the schools they donate to, and track students’ performance. It would also clarify the law to prioritize low-income children and ban school leaders from registering SSOs.

HB 394 dies in a House committee.

2011

HB 325 raises the statewide cap, requires SSOs to report more information to the state and creates penalties for SSOs that fail to comply.

The Department of Revenue begins to publish a few aggregate numbers, but all other SSO information is declared confidential and closed to the public under threat of criminal misdemeanor.

2013

HB 283 sets the statewide cap at $58 million per year.

SSOs are now required to “consider” applicants’ financial need, but not base scholarships on it.

Larger SSOs become more restricted in how much they can keep for administrative costs, down from 10 percent in earlier years.

Schools are banned from telling donors that they can donate to a scholarship for a particular student. Donors are banned from donating for a particular student, whether or not that student is their dependent.

The Department of Revenue begins to publish how many families receive scholarships from each income quartile, as well as the names of SSOs that failed to comply with all of the audit requirements.

2018

HB 217 raises the cap to $100 million a year until 2029, at which point it will drop back down to $58 million.

Instead of income quartile, SSOs will now report recipients’ families’ wealth as measured by the federal poverty level.

The State Auditor is asked to provide an economic analysis of the program to the legislature in 2023.

2019

HB 68 prohibits school accreditation bodies from registering as SSOs.

Samantha Sunne is a freelance journalist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the recipient of three national grants and several local awards for investigative reporting. She speaks at conferences,...