With new rules, record number of NC families applying for private school vouchers
February 5, 2024
North Carolina families are applying at a record-setting pace for state funding to help them pay for the cost of attending a K-12 private school.
The application period opened Thursday under new rules that allow any North Carolina family to apply for a private school voucher. As of Monday afternoon, there have been 31,603 complete Opportunity Scholarship applications, according to Kathy Hastings, a spokesperson for the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.
The applications received during the first five days this year is well above the 11,617 completed applications that the NCSEAA received in all of February 2023. It’s also nearly as many as the 32,341 students who are receiving an Opportunity Scholarship this school year.
“I am thrilled and yet not at all surprised by the overwhelming enthusiasm from new applicant families and students,” Mike Long, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, said in a statement Monday. “Demand for the Opportunity Scholarship Program continues to rise, and the expansion of the scholarship now means more families across our state will be empowered by parental school choice.”
PEFNC is receiving state funds to promote the program to parents across the state.
HOW TO APPLY FOR A VOUCHER
It’s not first-come, first-served. The application period will run until March 1.
Go to https://myportal.ncseaa.edu/ to create a MyPortal account to apply for a scholarship. Depending on a family’s income, they’ll receive a scholarship of between $3,360 and $7,468 per child for the 2024-25 school year.
The NCSEAA has up to $293.5 million it can award for scholarships. If there are more applicants than money available, vouchers will be handed in priority order to families renewing scholarships and then the families with the lowest incomes.
It’s unknown how many of the new voucher applicants are existing private school families or are people who are leaving public schools. The expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship program has been opposed by those who say it will come at the expense of public schools.
“The Governor will also spotlight the dangers of underfunding our schools while pouring millions of dollars into an unregulated private school voucher program that sends taxpayer money to private academies,” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said in a press release last week after the governor touring Millbrook High School in Raleigh.