Historic Milestones for North Carolina’s Largest Scholarship Program

More than 8,300 North Carolina families will benefit from an Opportunity Scholarship this fall, marking a milestone of full subscription for the first time in Program history.

Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina released the following analysis of North Carolina’s largest state-sponsored scholarship program, based on the latest data as reported by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA). The 2017-2018 school year will see historic success for the Opportunity Scholarship Program (established in 2013) through:

  • A combined 8,353 new scholarships and renewal scholarships accepted
  • 90% renewal rate of scholarships from 2016-2017; a 10% increase from a year ago
  • 10,580 new applicants from 97 of the 100 North Carolina counties
  • 459 registered private schools statewide for the Opportunity Scholarship Program
  • 3,107 applicants remain on the waitlist

“The overwhelming demand of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, in a short period, sends a clear message that families across our state continue to demand quality educational options for their children,” said Darrell Allison, Founding President of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.

“It’s remarkable when you think about it. The program had this legal cloud hanging over it from its inception in 2013 until 2015 when the NC Supreme Court ruled the program constitutional. Today, to have not only hit our max number of 8,300 students for this upcoming fall school year, but to also have a staggering 3,000 students on the waiting list just two years from the ruling is extraordinary. When our state legislature, led by Senate President Phil Berger, sought to lock-in this program for the next decade increasing new registrants each year, a few usual critics thought it premature and believed that funds would go unused. However, with today’s announcement, it validates that our leaders were clearly listening to the demands of their citizens and we were fully confident that our low-income and working-class families, in search of an opportunity, would respond strongly. However, I must admit that even I am surprised by the overwhelming numbers on the waiting list,” added Allison.

No other state since 2011 has implemented and expanded more parental school choice programs than North Carolina. In just six years, the cap on public charter schools has been eliminated resulting in over 70% growth in the public charter school sector; coupled with establishing three private school choice programs including the Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant (2011), the Opportunity Scholarship Program (2013), and Special Needs Education Savings Accounts (2017).

“The numbers simply don’t lie: Nearly 70% growth in public charter schools over the last six years; record-setting applications and full subscription for the Opportunity Scholarship Program; and over 100,000 students enrolled in private schools for the first time in our state’s history – all point to the fact that our North Carolina families strongly incorporate traditional as well as non-traditional education in their overall K-12 school design for their children,” concluded Allison.

Media requests, including interviews with families new to the Opportunity Scholarship Program this fall, should be coordinated with Brian Jodice at brian@pefnc.org or (919)995-0741.

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