by Kaitlyn Shepherd
Policy Analyst for the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Last Thursday, parents across North Carolina rushed to apply for the state’s Opportunity Scholarship voucher program on behalf of their children. More than 20,000 applications were received on the first day of the application period, according to a representative from the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA).
The Opportunity Scholarship Program benefits K-12 students by providing 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. During the 2023 legislative session, North Carolina lawmakers expanded the program to universal eligibility, removing income caps that kept some families from applying.
For the upcoming academic year, students who are already participating in the program will be offered the chance to renew their scholarships, then funding will be distributed in a lottery-style, tier-based system that prioritizes the families with the greatest financial need.
Source: North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority
To apply for the Opportunity Scholarship Program, parents must make a MyPortal Account, submit an application on behalf of each eligible child between Feb. 1 and March 1, check their account for any award notifications or deadlines, and respond to requests to verify income or residency or both.
According to Mary Shuping, director of governmental and external affairs at the NCSEAA, the agency received 20,344 new applications on Feb. 1, the opening day of the month-long application period. That count doesn’t include the more than 32,000 students who currently benefit from the program. This impressive number of new applications — just on day one — demonstrates strong interest in and demand for the program. Indeed, demand was so high that the application portal crashed around 12:15 am on Feb. 1. The temporary glitch reportedly affected fewer than 200 applicants.
The Opportunity Scholarship Program continues to enjoy widespread public support. Nearly two-thirds of North Carolina likely voters indicated support for the program, according to the results of the latest Carolina Journal Poll (formerly Civitas Poll).
Parents can apply on behalf of each of their children through March 1. Find more information on how to do so here.
For other articles discussing the Opportunity Scholarship Program, see the following: