State Financial Scholarship Not for Homeschool Students

6 Nov 2013

A postcard from School Choice North Carolina has caused confusion for some NC homeschool families. The postcard pertains to the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship, a recently enacted program that subsidizes tuition costs for qualified families to enroll in a nonpublic school. The postcard advises; "Check your family's eligibility for a state financial scholarship." Homeschool students are not eligible for this scholarship. 

For those who would like to know about this program, here are the details:

The North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship program was passed in July 2013 and will help students from low income families by allowing them to receive scholarships up to $4,200 per student to attend private schools. Scholarship amounts must not exceed the actual cost of tuition and fees.

To qualify the student must live in a household that meets 100% Free and Reduced Lunch qualifications and be a full time student who has not graduated from high school and attended a public school during the 2014 spring semester.

The State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA) will administer the program and award the scholarships. The SEAA will make applications available for the 2014-2015 school year no later than February 1, 2014. They will begin notifying scholarship recipients by March 1, 2014. Once a child has been awarded a scholarship, the SEAA will send scholarship funds to the appropriate nonpublic school at least twice each school year, after the student has selected and been admitted to a qualifying nonpublic school. A homeschool does not qualify.

The nonpublic school must administer a nationally standardized test at least once a year to all scholarship students enrolled in grades three or higher. Scores are not public record unless the school has more than 25 scholarship students.

Schools that receive these scholarship monies have accountability requirements to meet including background checks, and the requirement to have a financial review if they receive more than $300,000 in scholarships.