by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
Q: How is the NC Opportunity Scholarship awarded? If it is awarded in a need-basis, can you explain?
Answer (courtesy Dr. Terry Stoops, JLF’s VP of research and director of studies) :
Eligibility for an Opportunity Scholarship is determined using federal free and reduced-price lunch guidelines. If the household income qualifies the child to receive a free or reduced-price lunch, then the child is eligible for full coverage of tuition and fees up to $4,200. If household income exceeds federal guidelines, children may receive up to 90% of the required tuition and fees or $4,200, whichever is less.
Previous year recipients receive their Opportunity Scholarships first. After prior recipients receive their scholarship, at least 50% of the remaining funds must be used to cover scholarships for children in households with incomes that meet federal free and reduced-price lunch guidelines. No more than 40% of the remaining funds may be used to award scholarships to kindergarten or first-grade students.
After prior recipients receive their scholarships, new eligible applicants that submitted their application before the deadline are next. If the number of new applicants exceeds available funding, then the N.C. State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA) conducts a lottery. New applicants not selected in the lottery may still receive an Opportunity Scholarship if those selected in the lottery decline their scholarship or additional funds become available. Families who submitted an application after the deadline still may be eligible if all on-time applicants receive a scholarship and funds are available.
State law allows the SEAA to request information on any application for scholarship grants from eligible students and requires the agency to select and verify 6% of applications annually. Refusal to verify information may lead to revocation of the scholarship.