NC Opportunity Scholarship Program Truths – #SchoolChoice

Chalk - School Choice- OPPORTUNITY SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM TRUTHSLast week I wrote a much need article which dispelled the myths and misinformation on North Carolina Charter Schools.

This week, I will lay out the facts about the second school choice option being hammered by misinformation, the Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP).

The Opportunity Scholarship Program:

    • Does not ‘steal’ money from the education budget. The OSP has its own, separate funding managed by the NC State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA).
    • Awards up to $2,100 per student per semester ($4,200 per school year).
    • Grant money is paid directly to the school by the NCSEAA.
    • Covers K-12 tuition/fees for eligible families at the participating non-public school of their choice.
    • Is not ‘resegregating’ schools. The most recent data posted on 12/31/17 of the racial makeup of the applicants, minority students make up 45.01%. Black students make up 35% of that total. White students stand at 41% and 14% are listed as “other”. The racial makeup of the actual recipients closed matched but shifted slightly for minorities with 32% being black students and 9% Hispanic. Access the data sets HERE.
    • Has accountability. The argument that the private schools receiving OSP grants are not accountable is a direct insult to all parents and students and ignores the very basic idea that private schools are as their name states – they are private. Families make a huge investment of time, vetting and research when shopping for a school. Families have the ultimate form of accountability: Staying at a school or leaving it.
    • Again, has accountability. Private schools are required by state statute to test their kids using a nationally recognized, standardized test.


  • Is for low-income households, not ‘rich families’. Families must meet a specific income threshold to be eligible.  Below is the most recent income threshold chart published by the NCSEAA.
2018 OSP Income Thresholds

2018 OSP Income Thresholds

More Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible, a student must meet all the following requirements:

  • is 5 years old on or before August 31
  • lives in an eligible household
  • has not graduated from high school
  • is a resident of North Carolina
  • has not been in college

Additionally, to be eligible, students also need to meet one of the following:

  • received an Opportunity Scholarship last year
  • was a full-time student attending an NC public school or Department of Defense school in NC last spring semester
  • is entering kindergarten or 1st grade
  • is in foster care or was adopted within the last year
  • has a parent on full-time active duty with the military

More OSP Facts:

  • A 2015 Civitas poll reported that overall approval for the program stood at 68% with a high percentage of minorities (80%) supporting it. 75% of registered Democrats who responded supported the program.
  • The program is wildly popular, with more applicants than available grants each year. In 2013-14, 5,558 applied. That number has nearly doubled to 10,578. 
  • In 2016, the NC General Assembly included expansion of the OSP in their budget.
  • In 2016-17, the NCSEAA administered 5,624 Opportunity Scholarships and 1,144 Disabilities Grants for K-12 totaling $21,760,837. That is an increase of 50% from prior year. In 2015-16, 3,682 Opportunity Scholarships were awarded totaling $13,149,842.
  • The top 5 districts with schools receiving OSP funds as of 12/31/17 are Cumberland County (1,217), Mecklenburg County (1,198), Wake County (951), Guilford County (619), and Onslow County (459).

OSP Resources and Links:

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
This entry was posted in A.P. Dillon (LL1885), EDUCATION, Opportunity Scholarships (OSP), School Choice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.