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The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) is now accepting Opportunity Scholarship applications for the 2015-16 school year. The deadline for first-time and renewal applications is March 1.
The Opportunity Scholarship Program, originally co-sponsored by Representative Bell, expands school choice in North Carolina through scholarship grants for eligible children in kindergarten through 12th grade. This program provides funding of up to $4,200 per year for eligible children who choose to attend a participating nonpublic school.
The Opportunity Scholarship Program is the subject of lawsuits now pending before the North Carolina Supreme Court. The Opportunity Scholarship Program staff has been authorized to prepare for the 2015-16 school year but cannot disburse funds without further order of the Court.
“New and returning families should feel as optimistic as we do about the future of the Opportunity Scholarship Program for this upcoming school year and beyond,” said Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. “The Supreme Court has already showed strong signs by allowing existing scholarship recipients to continue on the scholarship this year as well as allowing NCSEAA to proceed with accepting applications for the 2015-16 school year. Last year, over 5,500 families applied for one of the 2,400 scholarships, and I believe we will continue to see demand for this vital program grow each year. There are literally thousands of families who are looking forward to their day in court — desperately hopeful for a favorable ruling. We’re hearing powerful stories across the state of how this program is already making positive impact in the lives of their children.”
Current Opportunity Scholarship recipients (2014-15) should log on to the Opportunity Scholarship Portal to complete a renewal application. To apply for the Opportunity Scholarship for the first time, complete an Opportunity Scholarship New Student Application. Students who have not received an Opportunity Scholarship are new students, even if a sibling is already an Opportunity Scholarship recipient.
- A student who has already received a high school diploma is not eligible.
- An eligible student must live in a household whose income meets the Income Eligibility Guidelines established by the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
A student must also meet ONE of the following requirements:
- Was a full-time student assigned to and attending a public school for the previous semester (Spring 2015); or
- Received an Opportunity Scholarship during the previous school year (2014-15); or
- Is entering kindergarten or first grade in 2015-16; or
- Is a child in foster care; or
- Is a child who was adopted within the last year.
First priority is for eligible students who received Opportunity Scholarship funds during the 2014-15 school year.
After Opportunity Scholarships have been awarded to prior recipients, the following priorities will apply:
- At least 50% of the remaining funds must go to students who live in a household with an income meeting an amount established by the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
- No more than 35% of the remaining funds can be awarded to students entering either kindergarten or first grade.
- Any remaining funds will then be awarded to other eligible students.
For more information on Opportunity Scholarships, including eligibility guidelines, application instructions, important deadlines, the awards process, and other requirements, please read Opportunity Scholarship Program: Information for Parents and School Administrators from the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.
Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) is a statewide organization that supports greater educational options through parental school choice, such as the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program, passed in July 2013, creates scholarships of up to $4,200 for low-income and working-class families to attend a private school. To be eligible for a scholarship for the 2015-2016 school year, household income must not exceed 133% of the amount to qualify for free and reduced price lunch (about $59,668 for a family of 4). Follow them on Twitter at @PEFNC.