If you’re a supporter of the Opportunity Scholarship and wondering if lawmakers will provide money to fund the expansion approved last session, there is good news coming out of the North Carolina State Senate.

Earlier today, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a proposed committee substitute (PCS) for HB 823. The PCS provides $248 million in nonrecurring funding to help eliminate the waitlist for the Opportunity Scholarship Program. In addition to $215.5 million in recurring support for 2025–26, the bill also includes $24.7 million to clear the waitlist for the Education Student Accounts (ESA+) Program.

Last year lawmakers lifted the income cap on the popular Opportunity Scholarship Program and essentially made all households eligible for a voucher. The only thing that changes is the size of the voucher, and that is dependent on household income, meaning that eligible recipients will receive awards worth up to 100 percent, 90 percent, 60 percent, or 45 percent of the previous year’s per-pupil expenditure. Awards will be up to $7,468 (Tier 1), $6,722 (Tier 2), $4,480 (Tier 3), and $3,360 (Tier 4).

The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, the state agency that administers the program, said 72,000 new applications were received during the priority registration period beginning Feb. 1. It is estimated that over 13,500 families in Tier 1 (families with the lowest household income) and 2,300 families in Tier 2 have received scholarships. That leaves a waitlist of about 54,800 applicants.

Of course, school choice advocates are excited about the bill to fund expansion. And we applaud lawmakers for taking this significant step in meeting their promise to expand educational options for families throughout North Carolina.

HB 823 next goes to the Senate Rules Committee. If approved, it will go to the Senate floor for a full vote.