Georgia Student Scholarship Organization

What is Georgia SSO?

Georgia SSO or Georgia Student Scholarship Organization Inc. is a state registered Student Scholarship Organization (SSO) as well as a 501-C-3 non-profit organization whose function is to facilitate the process of distributing tax credits in exchange for donations and to distribute funds for private school tuition scholarships. Georgia SSO partners with over 135+ Georgia private schools and has provided more than $62 million dollars in tuition scholarships supporting preK-12th grade.

How does the Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit work?

Because there are a specified amount of tax credits available each year ($120 million), a taxpayer must be pre-approved by the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR). This means that the DOR allocates a certain amount of the available tax credits specifically for each taxpayer.

Where is the Qualified Education Expense (QEE) Tax credit explained in the Georgia Law?

In 2008, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Qualified Education Expense (QEE) Tax Credit bill (HB 1133), and Governor Sonny Perdue signed it into law. The legislation was further amended in 2011 (HB 325), 2013 (HB 283), 2018 (HB 217) and 2022 (HB 517).  The law provides for the creation of student scholarship organizations (SSOs) where Georgia individual and corporate taxpayers can donate in exchange for a state income tax credit.

The tax credit guidelines are listed in the Georgia Code Title 48 Chapter 7-29.16. The details of the qualified Student Scholarship Organization are listed in the Georgia Code Title 20 Chapter 2A. If you have any additional issues or questions, please refer the Georgia Department of Revenue website.

Why is it important to pledge the maximum?

Tax Credit Cap has been increase due to new legislation:
Each year, tax credits are submitted for approval on the first business day of January.  When the tax credit cap is reached or exceed, there will be no more pledges accepted throughout the year, limiting your school's ability to increase their scholarship balance.

When pledges are first submitted in January, any tax credit cap overage will result in all pledges being prorated (reduced) down to meet the cap limit.  By not pledging the maximum, you risk not be able to contribute the amount you wish to your school.  This will result in a reduced scholarship balance for your school.  Remember, there is NO OBLIGATION to fund the entire amount. It is very important to always pledge the maximum and pledge early!  See the video on the homepage for more information.

New pledge amounts:

  • Individual: $2,500
  • Married Filing Joint: $5,000
  • Married Filing Separately: $2,500
  • S-Corps/LLCs: $25,000

What is the maximum amount someone can donate to Georgia SSO in exchange for a Georgia education expense tax credit?

This is based on Tax filing status:

  • Individual: $2,500
  • Married Filing Joint: $5,000
  • Married Filing Separately: $2,500
  • Individuals who receive pass-through income can contribute up to $25,000 or up to 75% of GA tax liability (See flyer on homepage for details)
  • C-Corporation: Up to 75% of GA tax liability

How does a tax credit differ from a deduction?

A tax credit is better than a deduction. A credit reduces your Georgia taxes dollar-for-dollar while a deduction reduces the taxable income upon which taxes are calculated.

You will pay the same amount regardless whether you participate or not, you are just choosing to redirect a portion of your state tax dollars to the school of your choice.

How do I participate in the program?

It’s an easy 2 minute process. Complete the Georgia SSO Tax Credit Form by December 31st and Georgia SSO will submit your information on your behalf. Georgia SSO will receive your approval notice within 30 days. Once your Georgia Department of Revenue approval notice is received, fund your donation to Georgia SSO within 60 days of your approval date of your letter.

Pledge Today

What is the deadline to qualify for the tax credit?

To receive a tax credit, you must pledge to donate by December 31st, (BUT DO NOT WAIT AS YOU RISK NOT GETTING PRE-VERIFIED) so that you can be approved by the DOR.  You will then receive approval from the Georgia Department of Revenue in January.  Once you receive approval, you then have 60 days from the date of your DOR approval letter to fund your donation to Georgia SSO.

What happens after I submit my pledge to Georgia SSO?

Once received, Georgia SSO will verify your information to ensure everything matches up within the DOR requirements.  Georgia SSO will submit your application to the DOR on the first business day in January.  Within approximately 2 weeks of submission, you will receive a letter from the DOR indicating your pre-approved tax credit amount.  You will have 60 days from the date of your letter to fund your donation to Georgia SSO.  Georgia SSO will mail you a tax credit receipt in January for the previous tax year.  If the GA tax-credit scholarship cap is not met in January, DOR submissions will occur weekly.

When should I fund my donation to Georgia SSO?

Payment needs to be made after you received approval from the Department of Revenue or email from Georgia SSO. Payment must be made within 60 days from the date of your approval letter. (Typically Mid-January – Mid March).

What forms of payment does Georgia SSO take for donations?

Georgia SSO accepts donations using ACH , PayPal, PayPal Credit and credit cards.
Georgia SSO has gone paperless and will no longer accept paper checks.

Can I direct my donation to a specific student?

No assumption can be made that a donation will be turned into a scholarship for your child or any specific student!  Georgia SSO does not accept donations specifically designated to any recipient. Donors would lose their Georgia tax credit. Georgia SSO is a 501c3 non-profit organization and is bound by the state regulations. As a 501c3, Georgia SSO is not permitted to accept any donations directed to a specific individual. Georgia SSO would be jeopardizing its non-profit status and our SSO status.

Can I designate that my donation be split between multiple schools?

Yes. Simply indicate on your Georgia SSO tax credit application how much you would like to go to each school, and Georgia SSO will ensure your donation is allocated accordingly.

Who is Eligible for a Scholarship?

Student eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a Georgia resident and be 4 years old by September 1st
  • Student criteria for automatically eligibility:
    Student is enrolling in Pre-K, Kindergarten or First Grade
    Student is in 2nd  Grade or above AND has received a scholarship in the past
    Student is in 2nd  Grade or above AND attended public school for six weeks in the last year
    Student is in 2nd  Grade or above AND homeschooled in the last year
    Student is in 2nd  Grade or above AND zoned for a low-performing school  GA  Low Performing School Search
    Student is in 2nd  Grade or above AND has documented school-based bullying issue
    Student is currently receiving or eligible for SB-10 or SB-47 Scholarships     

How do I apply for a Georgia SSO scholarship?

Georgia SSO works closely with our partner schools in awarding scholarships. To apply for a Georgia SSO scholarship click below to complete the scholarship application form. Be sure to check your email to acknowledge your scholarship award.

Apply Today

Does the scholarship award count as income?

No. When receiving a Georgia SSO’s tax credit scholarship award, there is no requirement to include the amount as income on the State or Federal return.

Are there any tax filing restrictions to claim my credit?

Yes, you may only claim your credit if you file your taxes electronically.

What if I pay quarterly estimated taxes?

If you pay your current year’s Georgia income taxes on a quarterly basis, in four equal installments, due on April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15 (of the following year), you can reduce a portion of each quarterly estimated income tax payment if you contribute to Georgia SSO for a tax credit within the same year.

How do I know what my Georgia income tax liability is?

Georgia income tax liability is 5.49% for 2022 multiplied by your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

What if my Georgia income tax liability is less than the amount I donated to Georgia SSO? Do I lose that money?

No, you do not lose the money.  The tax credit is a “non-refundable” credit. That means that you cannot receive a refund for any more than your GA tax liability. Any excess credit beyond your tax liability can be carried forward for up to 5 years for individual, couples filing married joint and married separate.

Can I reduce my Georgia income tax withholdings so that I can recoup my funds instead of waiting until I file my taxes?

Yes. You can recoup your donation sooner by adjusting your state withholding amount from each paycheck until you recoup your donation amount.  Don’t forget to change it back.

I usually get a refund from the state of Georgia. What happens if I donate to Georgia SSO?

For taxpayers who donate to Georgia SSO as individuals, married filing separate, or married filing jointly, if your Georgia income tax liability is at least as much as your Georgia SSO donation, your refund will increase by the amount of your donation. If on the other hand, your state income tax liability is less than the amount of your donation to Georgia SSO, the amount of the unused credit can be carried forward for up to 5 years.

Will this trigger an audit of my return?

No. The credit is applied against your Georgia income tax liability, and is pre-approved by the state of Georgia.

Can I contribute the Georgia SSO program for a tax credit if I don't reside in the state of Georgia?

Yes. As long as you pay Georgia state income taxes you can contribute to the Georgia SSO program for a tax credit.

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