North Carolina General Assembly Expands Educational Opportunities

Today, the North Carolina General Assembly approved their general appropriations bill that would expand educational opportunities to more North Carolina families, including funding for the creation of a new Education Savings Account Program – the sixth program of its kind in the nation.

The budget created an Education Savings Account Program targeted to families with children who have exceptional needs. The new $3 million program would take effect in the 2018-2019 school year and would provide up to $9,000 a year to offset the cost of educational expenses. Eligible students with the highest need will also be able to combine their ESA with the existing Children with Disabilities Grant, allowing those students to truly have an opportunity for educational success. The state budget also continues to fund the multi-year expansion of the existing Opportunity Scholarship Program, allowing for more low-income families to attend a private school of their choice.

“We commend Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, and all the other members of the General Assembly who voted to support enabling parents to choose the school that works best for their children,” said Ryan Cantrell, Regional Advocacy and Political Director for the American Federation for Children. “We also thank our partner organization, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, for their relentless advocacy work with lawmakers and families. North Carolina continues to be a leader when it comes to school choice, and this budget shows their unwavering dedication to funding students in a way that produces better outcomes for many children who are often underserved by the current system. We call on Governor Roy Cooper to put students first and sign this budget.”

Education Savings Account Programs allow parents to tailor their child’s education to meet their specific needs. ESA funds can be used for a variety of educational offerings including tutoring, private school tuition, and educational therapies. Other states with ESA programs include Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.