THOUSANDS OF NEW FAMILIES ARE HOPEFUL FOR A CHANCE TO SECURE A SCHOLARSHIP
The first month of Opportunity Scholarship applications highlights incredible demand for the program
Raleigh, NC (Wednesday, March 9, 2022) – Families across North Carolina have flooded the Opportunity Scholarship Program with new applications for the coming school year (2022-23), according to the latest data from the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority and school choice advocacy organization Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC).
In the first month of new applications (applications opened on February 1, 2022), 9,136 new students (and their families) applied for the program, which provides scholarships up to $6,168 for students to attend the private school of their choice. In addition to the vast demand from new applicants, to date, 16,299 students (and their families) have accepted their renewal offer for the coming school year; these are students already on scholarship who are saying right away that they will return to their private school of choice with the scholarship in the Fall.
“Since the Opportunity Scholarship Program was created in 2013, thousands of students across our great state have been awarded a scholarship and with that, they and their families have been empowered with equal access to the school of their choice. We are thankful that this year over 9,000 new families have already applied for this critical program, affirming what we know to be true, every student in our state should have access to the school that will best meet their needs, regardless of their zip code or family income,” said Mike Long, President of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.
A record number of Opportunity Scholarship Program students are enrolled in schools of their choice today; 20,252 students currently benefit from a scholarship (during the 2021-22 school year) through a commitment of $77,335,779 in support from the state of North Carolina. Those 20,252 students attend 502 private schools across the state.
“Helping families to not only know about the Opportunity Scholarship Program but to apply for it is hard work, a job that we are grateful to do every day here at PEFNC,” said Kwan Graham, PEFNC Director of Community Engagement.
“The emotional journey that we go on with families makes all the hard work worth it, to hear their voices when they have been awarded a scholarship is truly priceless,” added Graham.
“I am now at peace with my grandbaby’s schooling. I have submitted two new applications so that they can join my other grandkids who are already in a private school on the scholarship. This is providing a wonderful opportunity for my family. My prayers are always for this opportunity to grow. This is such a major need in so many homes and lives. Thank you so much for providing what I needed when I didn’t think I had a choice.” - Glenda Blackmon, Wilson
“The Opportunity Scholarship has provided a little buffer of relief for families in some unprecedented times. Family job dynamics have been altered and this program has given parents an avenue to find educational solutions that work best for their students. When public schools went virtual, schools of choice have been beacons of hope by staying consistent.” - Heather Fahnestock, Waterview Learning Academy (Wilmington)
“It is powerful to hear from parents, families, students, and school leaders who have all seen lives transformed because of the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Low-income families across our state have been empowered with real choice in education like never before. That is why it is a shame to see the teacher’s union in North Carolina (the North Carolina Association of Educators) continue to work so hard to abolish the scholarship program, through legal action, and quite frankly, bullying of private schools,” said Mike Long.
Long added, “Abolishing this scholarship program would disrupt the lives of over 20,000 current scholarship recipients. That is the equivalent of an entire traditional public school district.”
The Opportunity Scholarship Program was ruled constitutional by the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2015 by a 4-3 vote. However, just one of the original justices in the majority in 2015 remains on the court and two of the dissenting justices remain from the 2015 court. A pair of Supreme Court seats will be on the ballot in November.