A record number of parents across North Carolina have submitted applications for the state’s expanded Opportunity Scholarship voucher program this month. Families who have not yet submitted applications can do so until the priority application window closes this Friday.

As I’ve explained previously, the Opportunity Scholarship Program “provid[es] state-funded vouchers worth up to nearly $7,500 in 2024-25 to help cover the cost of tuition and fees at participating private schools.”

A press release from the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) gives more details on how and when to apply:

The priority application period for Opportunity Scholarships and ESA+ closes March 1, 2024. Families who still wish to apply should do so as soon as possible. All new applications completed by March 1 will be entered into the scholarship lottery. Families are encouraged to apply prior to March 1 in case they need assistance completing their application.

Incomplete applications will not be entered in the scholarship lottery. The Opportunity Scholarship lottery will be conducted according to income level. Students will be awarded Opportunity Scholarships with students in the lowest household income level receiving first priority. Families are encouraged to confirm their application is complete. Visit www.ncseaa.edu for directions.

After March 1, families who wish to be notified if the application period reopens should visit the Opportunity Scholarship or ESA+ program page on www.ncseaa.edu.

Last year, the North Carolina General Assembly expanded program eligibility so that any family — regardless of income — can apply. Previously, eligibility was limited by household income.

When the priority application period opened on Feb. 1, parents across North Carolina rushed to apply, submitting more than 20,000 applications on the first day alone. Indeed, web traffic to the application portal was so great that the site crashed temporarily. According to Kathryn Marker, director of K-12 scholarship programs at the NCSEAA, the agency had received 59,211 new completed applications as of the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 26.

Parents should submit applications before the March 1 deadline to ensure that their applications are entered into the lottery. The NCSEAA is offering extended call center hours this week to assist families with the application process.

For other articles discussing the Opportunity Scholarship Program, see the following: