The Opportunity Scholarship Program

Private school funding options for low-income students in NC


Published:

An Opportunity Scholarship student browses the library.

Photo courtesy of Stephen J Coppedge

Parents should know about a state-funded scholarship that can help low-income families afford tuition and fees at private schools. The Opportunity Scholarship, implemented in 2014 and administered by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, offers money that low-income families who are dissatisfied with their current educational situations may use to attend participating private schools.

For families who receive the award, the state pays up to $2,100 per student, per semester ($4,200 per year), directly to participating schools on behalf of the students. The money is designated specifically for tuition and fees at private schools but does not cover books, uniforms or other expenses.


Who is Eligible?

Students applying to receive an Opportunity Scholarship must meet the following criteria:

* They must be North Carolina residents between the ages of 5-22 at the beginning of their scholarship year.
* They must not have graduated high school.
* Students new to the program must either be entering kindergarten or first grade, or have attended a North Carolina public school during the preceding school year. (Exceptions to this rule exist; read the program overview at ncseaa.edu/pdf/ops_overview.pdf for details.)
* Their families must be financially eligible. The chart below, produced by NCSEAA, can help you determine whether your family is financially eligible for the scholarship. 

* The Opportunity Scholarship covers 90 percent of the required tuition and fees or $4,200, whichever is less.


Within the pool of eligible families, students who are already receiving an Opportunity Scholarship receive first priority. The next priority goes to first-time applicants who submit their applications by the March 1 deadline. Those students are put into a lottery. Any money that remains, once all the priority applicants have received their, goes to eligible students who apply after March 1.


How to Apply

The Opportunity Scholarship application is available on the scholarship’s website: ncseaa.edu/osg.htm. The 2019-20 school year application comes out on Feb. 1, 2019. The application is online only, and families should fill it out on a computer. Applying families need to have an email address and be prepared to check it regularly. The document asks families to report their household income based on their most recent income tax returns, so families should have those documents available when filling out the application.

Kathryn Marker, director of grants, training and outreach for NCSEAA, emphasizes that applying for enrollment for the Opportunity Scholarship is a separate process from applying to attend the private school itself.

“Many of the families going for the first time don’t realize what a [private school] enrollment process might entail,” she says. “They might wait to apply to the school, and then the school doesn’t have room.”  She cautions families to stay on top of the private school’s application timeline, as well as that of the Opportunity Scholarship application.


What Schools Can Students Attend?

Students can use the Opportunity Scholarship at any school registered with the North Carolina Division of Nonpublic Education, as long as that school has agreed to participate in the program. A list of participating schools can be found at www3.ncseaa.edu/cgi-bin/schoolroster/nps500.pgm or on the Opportunity Scholarship website. If a student wishes to attend a school that is not on the list to receive Opportunity Scholarships, families should talk to the school about contacting NCSEAA and being added to the list.


Additional Resources

You can get in touch with the NCSEAA through the Opportunity Scholarship by visiting ncseaa.edu, calling 855-330-3955 (toll-free) or emailing opportunityscholarships@ncseaa.edu.

Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a private advocacy group, helps families navigate the process of applying for the Opportunity Scholarship. You can get in touch with PEFNC at pefnc.org, by emailing the organization at info@pefnc.org or by calling 919-871-1084.
PEFNC also offers ncschoolsaroundme.com, which helps parents find and evaluate schools in their neighborhoods.


Elizabeth Brignac is a freelance writer and mother of two adventurous boys. She lives in Cary.

 

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October 2019

Since the 1850s, North Carolina farmers have been going to the State Fair to learn about ways to improve their farming practices. Discover the origins of the State Fair and the history behind some...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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This festival has something for the fastest runners and families alike. Start and finish at Diamond View Park at the American Tobacco Campus and choose from the Half Marathon, Five Miler or 1 Mile...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Southpoint Mall and American Tobacco Trail
6910 Fayeteville Rd
Durham, NC  27713
View map »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Carmichael Gymnasium
2611 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
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Performers in Mallarmé's first Family Series Concert, “JAZZ IS CHAMBER MUSIC, TOO!” will include faculty and students from the NCCU Jazz Department...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kirby Horton Hall, Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mallarme Chamber Players
Telephone: 919-560-2788
Contact Name: Mickaella Guarascio
Website »

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Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Triangle Beagle Rescue with barbecue, cake, ice cream, vendors, raffles and a doggie costume contest.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Compass Rose Brewery
3201 Northside Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Website »

More information

Snakes, spiders, bugs, and beetles! Most people either love them or hate these "scary" critters. Prepare to face your fears by exploring these animals and the important roles they play in their...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

The Durham Medical Orchestra will perform a benefit concert for the Miracle League of the Triangle, including children and adults with special needs. Special guest is Wool E. Bull of the Durham...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park Pavilion
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


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One dark fall night, Mouse creeps out and hears strange sounds and sees spooky sights. What could it mean? Don't worry, Mouse—it's Halloween! Join us for a fun yet spooky tale by Lauren Thompson...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

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Join a naturalist for a re-energizing walk in the forest. This is a hike to immerse ourselves in nature. We will stop and talk about plants when it is interesting for the group. Note that, as a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

There is more to the “ring-tailed bandit” than meets the eye! Discover the mysteries behind this animal, including what their favorite foods are and their unique adaptations. Make a mask of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

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Did you know young raccoons are called kits? Learn all about these ring-tailed mammals through hands-on discovery, stories, and a fun craft! Then learn how to walk like a raccoon and search for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

Show More...
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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Assist with our habitat box monitoring. Tasks will vary depending on what needs attention and may include: cleaning or repairing habitat boxes or installing new ones, monitoring our current...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

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For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Trick or Treat in Downtown is a Free annual Halloween event sponsored by Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association and participating Downtown Businesses. Held from 2-5pm, families are invited to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Fuquay-Varina
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526


Sponsor: Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association
Telephone: 919-552-0848
Contact Name: Rachel Cornett
Website »

More information

Celebrate the fall season at the Garden with a fun-filled evening of hands-on nature activities! Meet green monsters, craft a magic wand and leaf critter, tackle the spider web obstacle course,...

Cost: $5 per person; children 2 & under FREE

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Just as you are getting sleepy and letting go of a yawn, many of the wetland’s inhabitants are stretching and getting ready for their “day.” We’ll learn which animals in the wetland are...

Cost: $5 per family

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

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Conjure up your best disguise* and show off your Halloween threads as you compete in our costume contest, then march over to the Makery to decorate a trick-or-treat bag for the big night. Summon...

Cost: $35

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Sabrina Varney
Website »

More information

This event is very popular, and spots fill up fast so make sure to reserve your spot in advance.  In the heart of a zombie apocalypse at TreeRunner, the park has been quarantined as a large...

Cost: Adults & Kids Over 14 years of age:$44; Kids 13 and under: $39

Where:
TreeRunner Raleigh
12804 Norwood Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Telephone: 919-410-7347
Contact Name: TreeRunner
Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

More information

Families explore different school and calendar options in the Wake County Public School System.

Cost: Free

Where:
Panther Creek High School
6770 McCrimmon Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27519
View map »


Website »

More information

Pittsboro comes alive with arts and crafts vendors, food trucks and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Pittsboro
, NC  27312


Website »

More information

The local community is invited to the CORRAL Riding Academy’s CORRAL Classic to celebrate the young women of CORRAL as they give riding demonstrations, meet CORRAL’s horses and goats at...

Cost: Free

Where:
CORRAL Riding Academy
3620 Kildaire Farm Rd
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: CORRAL Riding Academy
Telephone: 919.355.2090
Contact Name: Abby Shea
Website »

More information

Food trucks, a kids costume contest, arts and crafts vendors and more light up Main Street in Rolesville.

Cost: Free

Where:
Main Street
Rolesville, NC  27571


Website »

More information

Live entertainment, a kids' zone, corn hole competition, food trucks, and arts and crafts vendors highlight this annual festival in Holly Springs.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugg Farm at Bass Lake Park
2401 Grigsby Ave.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Website »

More information

Calling all walkers, runners and anyone who wants to have fun at the beautiful Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh and help us celebrate 40 years of prevention. Join the staff of PCANC and the triangle...

Cost: $30 Individual/$70 for Families

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
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Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 & 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (60+ yrs), $3/Child (7-16yrs), Free/Child (6yrs & younger)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
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Telephone: 919-856-6675

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Come in costume for Halloween family fun at the 𝗧𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗸 𝗼𝗿 𝗧𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗦𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗮𝘆,...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Triangle Town Center
5959 Triangle Blvd
#206
Raleigh, NC  27616
View map »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Man's best friend is featured in a family-friendly event that includes dog shows, a canine costume contest, parade, photo booth and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Put on your fastest shoes and your race face for some fun, frightening fitness in a 3.1-mile run, Enjoy live music and seasonal food and drinks at the Farmhouse Café. Costumes not...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wendell Falls
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Telephone: 919-437-4043
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Cost: $10/person. Free for ages 9 and younger

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Horse and Buddy Therapeutic Riding Program
4728 Old U.S. Hwy. 1
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Website »

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Search wetlands and forests for birds. Ages 13-15. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Hemlock Bluffs/Stevens Nature Center
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

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Nash Square Park
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Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
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Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

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Education Guide

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