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State Senate Committee Approves Bill to Expand Opportunity Scholarships

Little girl wearing blue backpack on a sidewalk in an urban area

This morning, the N.C. Senate Committee on Education/Higher Education approved SB 406—Choose Your School, Choose Your Future, which would expand eligibility for North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship, require additional classes for early high school graduation, and create a scholarship for those who graduate early.

An Overview of the Bill

Sponsored by Sens. Michael Lee (R–New Hanover), Lisa Barnes (R–Nash), and Amy Galey (R–Alamance), this bill seeks to expand the funding for students so they can have the opportunity to attend the school of their parent’s choosing that will be the best fit for them.

Expand Opportunity Scholarship

The North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship is an income-based program that helps families pay tuition and fees at non-public schools. For the upcoming school year, the awards can be as high as $6,492 per student. This bill would expand the eligibility requirements, allowing more students to be eligible for the scholarships. In addition to this, the bill would significantly increase the funding available, enabling more students to receive the funds they need to attend their school of choice. The program has a waitlist of students who are eligible for funding, and these expansions are intended to meet these pressing needs.

Add Requirements for Early High School Graduation

The bill outlines two additional requirements to graduate from high school. The first is the successful completion of instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The second is a passing grade in a semester course on the Founding Principles of the United States of America and the State of North Carolina (which is outlined here).

Establish Early Graduation Scholarship

The final section of this bill establishes a scholarship for students who graduate high school within three years of entering 9th grade. It outlines several parameters for the scholarship, including that the student would be eligible for no more than two semesters in the two academic years immediately following their graduation from high school.

Why This Matters

We firmly believe each child should have the opportunity to attend the school that their parent(s) believes is the best fit for him or her. While North Carolina has some excellent public-schools, that does not necessarily make them the best fit for every child. With this bill, the Opportunity Scholarship funding follows the child and not the school, working to ensure that every child can receive the best education possible regardless of financial constraints. You can learn more about the benefits of school choice here.


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