Press Release

South Carolina Establishes Education Scholarship Account Program

On Wednesday, the bill to establish South Carolina’s first Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program passed a major milestone when the South Carolina House of Representatives voted in support 79-35. The bill, bringing more educational opportunities to the state’s low and middle-income families, will shortly be on its way to the Governor’s desk.

Through the program, called the Educational Scholarship Trust Fund, ESAs may be used for tuition, fees, educational expenses at private schools or public schools outside of the family’s zoned district, occupational, physical, speech, and other therapies for special needs students, tutoring, and transportation to and from an approved education provider.

With the Governor’s signature, South Carolina will become the fifth state to establish an ESA within the last year.

Statement from Tommy Schultz, CEO, American Federation for Children:

“We sincerely thank bill sponsor Senator Grooms, Education Committee Chairs Senator Hembree and Representative Erickson, as well as President Alexander and Speaker Smith, Senate Majority Leader Massey, and House Majority Leader Hiott for putting students over systems. Today marks an important step forward for South Carolina families. AFC celebrates that, because of this bill, thousands more families can afford an educational environment that works for them. We look forward to continuing to stand with families who want the freedom to choose the best K-12 education for their children.

“We’d also like to take a moment to note the hard work of the team at Palmetto Promise. Passage of this bill is due in large measure to their passion and persistence over multiple years.”


  • Eligibility expands from students whose family income is less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) in the program’s first year to 300 percent of FPL in year two, to 400 percent of FPL in year three.
  • For School Year 2024-25, the program is limited to 5,000 scholarships. That number increases to 10,000 scholarships in 2025-26 and 15,000 in 2026-27.
  • Each ESA is worth $6,000.
  • The Senate passed the bill in March by a vote of 28-15.
  • The House concurred on 2nd reading by a vote of 79-35.

Comment (1)

Comments are closed.

Add South Carolina and Indiana to the list of states enacting nearly universal educational opportunity - Georgia Center For Opportunity

June 2, 2023

[…] South Carolina’s program allows for the establishment of Educational Scholarship Trust Funds. Funds deposited in these accounts can be used not only for expanded school choice, but may also be used for special needs therapies, such as physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Tutors and transportation may also be included for families caring for special needs students.  […]


Thank you for signing up! An email has been sent to your inbox.

Request a Fellow to Speak at Your Event