Thousands apply in first days of expanded Opportunity Scholarship Program | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is David Bass.

    Applications for the Opportunity Scholarship Program opened Feb. 1 in North Carolina, marking the beginning of what is sure to be another year of growth for the school-choice program.

    As of the morning of Feb. 3, 3,853 applications had been received for Opportunity Scholarships, according to the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority, the state agency that oversees the program.

    The NCSEAA also published new guidelines on the value of each scholarship and the income thresholds needed to apply. Each scholarship is now worth up to $6,492 a year for tuition and fees at a private school, while the yearly income cap for a family of four is now $111,000.

    The Opportunity Scholarship Program, in existence since 2013, enables North Carolina families of moderate means to send their children to a private school.


    In recent years, lawmakers in the General Assembly have expanded the program to more middle-class households. As recently as the 2020-2021 school year, an Opportunity Scholarship was only valued at $4,200 a year and the income limits were set at an upper maximum of $64,465 for a family of four.

    The exact value of the scholarship is now indexed to 90% of the average per pupil state allotment for public school students during the prior fiscal year.

    "Recent expansions to the Opportunity Scholarship Program will allow more families to send their son or daughter to a school is a better fit for their needs," said Dr. Robert Luebke, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation. "That's good news for many families who are trapped in neighborhoods with no good options. North Carolinians should be grateful to the legislators who created this program and to those who help to fund it. Access to a good school changes lives. Just ask students in the Opportunity Scholarship Program."

    According to data from Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, 24,077 students are receiving Opportunity Scholarships for the current school year.

    The priority window for applications closes March 1. Families that apply after the priority window closes are put on a waitlist. Scholarship award announcements are typically made in April.

    Support for Opportunity Scholarships stands at 67% among likely North Carolina voters, according to the latest Civitas poll.
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