March 7, 2018

Idaho House of Representatives passes GEM Scholarship Act

On March 5th, the Idaho House of Representatives passed HB 590, the Guided Education Management (GEM) Act, which could establish tax credit scholarships for students from low-come families, with learning disabilities, students considered “at-risk” by state law, and children of active duty military families.

If passed and signed into law, these scholarships will be funded through private contributions to a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) and can be used for a variety of state-authorized educational expenses, including private school tuition, tutoring, online courses, and special education services. Scholarship funding would not exceed the average amount of per pupil funding in the public education system. Eligible students must either be under the age of 19 and have attended Idaho public schools the prior school year OR entering kindergarten or first grade. Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis to students who submit eligibility applications.

GEM scholarships are funded through private donations. They incentivize charitable giving through providing a tax credit to individuals or corporations who donate to SGOs, which in turn award scholarships to eligible students. GEM scholarships are different than traditional tax credit scholarships because they allow families to fully customize their children’s schooling experience to their children’s learning needs with a variety of education tools and services.

The GEM Scholarship ACT will now be considered by the Idaho Senate Education Committee.

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Shawn Peterson
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