education options

education options2018-02-24T20:45:28-06:00

You have more options than you may think…

Brick & Mortar Public Schools

Compulsory Attendance

Your child’s age is your first indicator of his or her eligibility for beginning school. Students may start kindergarten if they turn five on or before September 1st. A child does not have to enroll in school at age five, but must be enrolled in 1st grade if he or she is seven on or before December 31.  see more >

Required Documentation

North Carolina school districts set the requirements for what documentation is required prior to enrolling a student in their district. To get that information, contact the district directly.  

Some legal documents are required for Alabama students to attend school:

  • Certified Birth Certificate/proof of identity
  • Official copy of records/transcripts from the previous school the child most recently attended
  • A shot immunization record (or proof that immunization is not required for the child)
  • Click here to view the immunization requirements
  • Proof of home address (for example, a rental agreement or tax statement)

School Fees

Paying some fees is a part of public education, though it is primarily a free education. Students are expected to supply their own basic school supplies such as paper, pencils, and notebooks. Each district has a list of approved expenditures for students. Fee waiver forms can be requested from the school if there is a situation that prevents a family from being able to pay for required materials or events.

Some typical items on that list include:

  • Lunch
  • Summer school
  • Student parking passes (high school)
  • Lost textbooks
  • Late or lost library books
  • Field trips
  • Special class-required fees (e.g., science lab fees)

Public Charter Schools

What are Charter Schools?

Charter Schools are tuition-free public schools operated by independent, non-profit governing bodies.

Parents, teachers, and community leaders sign a “charter” or contract with a school district or state agency to create a charter school and give students more educational options than their assigned school. Charter schools have flexibility over classroom hours, curriculum, and employment policies, but are subject to periodic reviews based on student performance. In North Carolina, public charter school students are measured against the same academic standards as students in other public schools. Local boards of education monitor the academic and financial performance of charter schools, and, can revoke  or refuse to renew a school’s charter.

North Carolina Charter Schools

Visit the North Carolina Department of Education for a list of the Charter Schools, currently in North Carolina

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about charters can be found at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.  


Most charter schools do not have attendance zones. If you are interested in applying for your child, you must apply directly to the school. The application and selection process can be quite complicated. Make sure to contact the school early to determine the correct next steps to applying.

Virtual Public Schools

Before the 2016–17 school year, each local board of education adopted a policy providing at a minimum, a virtual education option for eligible students in Grades 9–12, inclusive, beginning with that school year. Most have programs available for students 8–12 grade. Check your local school district for details.

North Carolina Virtual Academy

Phone: (855) 669-3660
Grades: K-11

North Carolina Virtual Public School

Phone: (919) 513-8550
Grades: K–12

North Carolina Connections Academy

Phone: 888-410-6502
Grades: K-11

Private Schools

What makes a school “private”?

Private schools charge tuition, and many have a religious mission. Some private schools offer families assistance to make tuition payments. Click below for the complete list of over 700 private schools across the state.

Private School Review offers free, detailed information on U.S. private schools combined with useful community data (e.g., housing costs) and maps of the surrounding areas.

*Information on non-public school admission requirements should be obtained from the school directly.


For families who currently want to consider private school options in North Carolina, there are a few programs and organizations that provide vouchers and scholarships!

Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina

North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program

Educational Choice Programs

North Carolina’s Personal Education Savings Account program was enacted in 2017 and will begin providing funding to students in the 2018–19 school year. This educational choice program, the state’s third, serves some students with special needs and can be used in conjunction with the state’s two voucher programs. The sixth education savings account (ESA) program in the nation, North Carolina’s Personal Education Savings Account provides families funds to pay for a variety of educational services. Learn more about this program’s funding, eligibility and regulations on this page.

North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarships program was enacted in 2013 and launched in 2014. It provides private school vouchers to children of low-income households. Families can use these school vouchers to pay for tuition, transportation, equipment and other necessary private school expenses. Learn more about this program’s eligibility requirements, rules and regulations on this page.

This North Carolina school voucher program was enacted in 2013 and launched in 2014. Students with qualifying special needs are eligible to receive school vouchers, which are awarded by semester, rather than school year. Families may use vouchers to pay private school tuition or homeschool services. Learn more about the program’s participation rates, funding, rules and more on this page.

For more information on policy change or to get involved in the school choice movement in North Carolina visit EdChoice.

Private Virtual Schools

George Washington University Online High School is an online college preparatory academy for motivated students who are willing to be challenged to become the best students and persons they can be. Combining award-winning curriculum with small class sizes and intensive college counseling, students receive a flexible, individualized education attuned to their own needs and goals.

International Academy is a K12, Inc accredited, online private school for grades K–12. Students earn a U.S. high school diploma while using award-winning K¹² curriculum

They offer extensive, individualized academic and counseling support keep students on track. The flexibility allows students to explore their passions. Full-time and part-time options are available.

International Connections Academy is a fully-accredited, online, college preparatory private school serving K–12 students worldwide. The program combines a top-rated curriculum with talented teachers, cutting-edge technology, the flexibility to learn at home, and direct family involvement to ensure each student realizes his or her full potential.

The Keystone School offers flexible education programs for high school and middle school students. Whether your student wants to study full-time or just needs individual classes, they offer more than 170 courses from credit recovery to world languages and AP. Students can enroll at any time.

Home Education

Your options

In North Carolina, parents have three options when it comes to educating their children at home.  learn more >

1. Submit a notice of intent

You must submit a notice of intent to operate a homeschool to the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE). Submitting this notice is only required once, when you are establishing a new homeschool. Your notice must contain the name and address of your homeschool and the name of your homeschool’s owner and chief administrator. You may submit your notice of intent to operate a homeschool via the DNPE’s website. Alternately, if you are an HSLDA member and prefer to use a paper form, you may download ours here.

2. Ensure that the teachers in your homeschool have the required qualifications.

The persons who provide academic instruction in your homeschool must have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent.

3. Provide the required days of instruction.

Your homeschool must operate on a regular schedule for at least nine calendar months each year, except for “reasonable holidays and vacations.”

4. Keep attendance and immunization records.

You can download a homeschool attendance form from the DNPE’s website, although the use of this form is not mandatory. Immunization records can be obtained from your child’s health care provider. Information about medical and religious exemptions from immunizations is available on the website of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

5. Administer an annual standardized test.

  1. At least once during every school year, you must test your child using a nationally standardized test or other nationally standardized equivalent measurement. The test you choose must measure achievement in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling, and mathematics. For one year after the testing, your child’s test scores must be kept “available” at the principal office of your homeschool at all reasonable hours for annual inspection by a duly authorized representative of the state of North Carolina.
  2. Although the DNPE has attempted to perform home visits under this provision, the law gives its officials no right to enter homes or to inspect any records besides test scores. There is also no statutory requirement for parents to attend record review meetings arranged by the Division of Non-Public Education for the purpose of reviewing their records. Copies of test scores may simply be mailed to the DNPE upon request.
Home School Legal Defense Alliance

visit HSLDA website >

Coalition for Responsible Home Education

visit the coalition’s website >

Support Groups

North Carolina has many homeschool associations that offer classes, curriculum, advising, sports, clubs, socials and recreation. Check out your local support groups here.

Dual Enrollment

College Credit

Dual enrollment allows students to receive both high school and college credit. The Career and College Promise program provides opportunities for students to pursue (1) a Career Technical Education Pathway, leading to a certificate or diploma aligned with one or more high school Tech Prep Career Clusters, and (2) a College Transfer Pathway, leading to a college transfer certificate requiring the successful completion of 30 semester hours of transfer courses, including English and math.

Courses are provided at:

  • At high school
  • At postsecondary institution
  • Virtual program

Course Fees

The state is primarily responsible for paying tuition. The general assembly reimburses FTE costs to the community college system based on participation reports. All curriculum courses taken by Career and College Promise students at community colleges are tuition-waived except courses offered on a self-supporting basis.

Responsibility for textbook costs is locally determined. Textbook costs are the student’s responsibility unless a student’s high school, school district, or another organization covers these costs. Student fees (e.g., technology fees, insurance fees) are not waived for Career and College Promise students. However, school districts and community colleges should work together to determine whether and how student fees will be paid for participating students.

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