North Carolina Opens Opportunity Scholarship Program to All Families
The American Federation for Children applauds the North Carolina General Assembly for ushering in a new era of educational opportunity by passing a sweeping expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program within the state’s budget. This landmark legislation, which received bipartisan support, will increase the program’s funding to $520 million over the next decade, allowing families and students the option to choose a private school education for their children.
Under the newly approved budget, eligibility for Opportunity Scholarships will be extended to all families in a tiered system based on income. This policy will stipulate that lower-income households receive the highest priority, while middle and upper-income families may access the program if funds remain available.
The Governor has indicated he will allow the budget to become law without his signature.
Statement from Tommy Schultz, CEO of the American Federation for Children:
“North Carolina’s bold step to expand the Opportunity Scholarship Program is not just a victory for its families; it’s a rallying cry for the rest of the nation. Let this be a resounding message to every state: the time is now to put students and families first, to break down barriers, and to empower parents with the freedom to choose the best education for their children.
“Today’s victory would not have happened without the tireless families and advocates who worked for years to get to this moment, including our partners at Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.”
- The Opportunity Scholarship Program expansion passed within the state’s budget with votes of 26-17 in the House and 70-40 in the Senate.
- The program will now be available to all North Carolina families while prioritizing the lowest-income families first. The tiers are as follows (based on a family of four):
- Household income of less than $55,000.
- Household income of less than $111,000.
- Household income of less than $249,750.
- Household income of more than $249,750.
- Families with lower incomes would be eligible for the full scholarship amount, approximately $7,400 for the current year, while households in the subsequent three income brackets would receive scholarships at rates of 90%, 60%, and 45%, respectively.
- The program cap will be $176 million for the 2023-24 school year, but will increase to $520 million by 2032.