What choices do you have?
WELCOME! North Carolinians can choose between a public or a private school. Public schools are thought to be "free," but they are funded through tax dollars and are not free at all, but are better stated as "tuition-free" schools. All k-12 school options are as follows: government-run district, charter, private, online, hybrid, micro or home school.
If your school isn't working well for your family, then you should have other options. This is the essence of school choice; parents lead the decision-making process for their families as opposed to the old way. You have more options than you may realize and it's time to start thinking past the boundaries of your zip code . No child should be left behind in a failing school and it's okay to want better for your family. School Choice should be non-political but hyper-political teachers unions have been unrelenting in their attacks on these educational freedoms, as well as lobbying for candidates who will vote against school choice programs, all to protect the government-run monopoly.
Scholarships, or Grants are school choice programs which are always at risk of being defunded, or eliminated if we do not have elected officials or representatives protecting and expanding these programs. Scholarships may be available for qualifying families to attend a private school and help pay for tuition costs. The state of North Carolina has three ways to help convert tax dollars into a means which will help parents and guardians access schools they actually want to attend and not one that is based on their zip code. North Carolina's three Grants are the Opportunity Scholarship Program, the Education Savings Account and the Disabilities Grant Program.
CHARTER schools are public schools in which state and local tax dollars are the primary funding sources. They have open enrollment. They cannot discriminate in admissions, associate with any religion or religious group, or charge-tuition. Charter schools are regulated differently than GOVERNMENT-RUN schools, but are held accountable by the NC Department of Public Instruction and the State assessment and accountability system. Both the GOVERNMENT-RUN DISTRICT and CHARTER schools are publicly funded education choices.
GOVERNMENT-RUN district schools are chosen for you based on your zip code.
*HOMESCHOOLS are tuition-free, but parents/guardians are allowed to outsource k-12 education needs, per NC homeschool laws.
*ONLINE Schools have a separate section below. They have tuition-free options and also tuition-based options.
PRIVATE, HOME and some HYBRID schools fall under the regulations of the Department of Nonpublic Education. These are a mixture of tuition-based choices, or options where you will have to purchase your own curriculum, or hire tutors.
Hybrids are typically schools in which you pay tuition and you make a committment to send your child to a brick & mortar school, as well as a self-guided home educational committment. An example would be a situation where the student spends two days in classes and three days at home for a lower private tuition price.
Prior to Covid-19 ONLINE schools have public or private school options. This means there exists tuition-free online schools and ones which will charge tuition as well. In North Carolina, there are two full time online charter schools which serve grades k-12
NC also offers an online supplemental high school program called North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS). If you are a homeschooler, you should expect to pay to use this supplemental program, since it is a state program.
Parents will need to follow up with government-run school districts to explore potential virtual options through local school system.
Expanding Your Choices Even Further...
The Disabilities Grant Program is a program for eligible students with disabilities in Kindergarten through 12th grade to provide an option for parents to pay tuition, fees, and some other expenses at a participating school or homeschool.
The 2019-20 new student application for the Disabilities Grant Program opens February 1, 2019. Applications received through the priority deadline of March 15 are not considered on a first-come, first-served basis. New student awards will be offered to eligible students selected by lottery according to the new student priorities. Students applications received by March 15 will be entered in the lottery. The application will close June 1.
This is a program which provides up to $4,200 for eligible full-time, nonpublic school students per school year. Money is distributed to a participating PRIVATE school for the tuition fee.
Priority is given to students funded in the prior year.
The new application period opens on February 1. March 1 deadline for priority consideration.New, eligible students are selected by a lottery system.
Funds may be used on nonpublic school, but do not include disbursements allowable to home schools
These are scholarship funds which help with tuition and required fees at a participating nonpublic school. This scholarship money is for qualified expenses related to educating a child with a disability.
$9,000 per full-time nonpublic school student per school year
$4,500 per part-time nonpublic school student per school year
Unused funds are carried forward provided the student continues to participate in the program and continues to meet the program’s requirements