Senate Approves Funding for Over 54,000 Opportunity Scholarships

Senator Berger Press Shop
2 min readMay 2, 2024

House Bill 823 clears the waitlists for school choice programs

Sen. Lee: “Education dollars should follow students, no matter what school they attend”

Raleigh, N.C. — Today, the North Carolina Senate approved funding to clear the waitlists for the Opportunity Scholarship and Education Student Accounts programs to ensure that more than 56,000 students can begin planning for the upcoming school year.

During the priority application period, nearly 72,000 new applications were received for the Opportunity Scholarship program, which provides income-based scholarships to students to attend the school that best fits their educational needs. The funding was exhausted after offering scholarships to 13,511 applicants in the lowest income tier and about 2,300 in the second income tier. There are more than 54,000 students currently on the waitlist for Opportunity Scholarships.

The Education Student Accounts program supports students with disabilities with funds to pay for tuition and fees at private schools and other expenses like speech therapy and tutoring services. There are currently more than 2,000 students on the waitlist for the ESA+ program.

House Bill 823 includes $248 million nonrecurring to clear the Opportunity Scholarship waitlist for the upcoming school year, and $215.5 million recurring for scholarship awards in the 2025–26 fiscal year. It also includes $24.7 million recurring to clear the ESA+ waitlist.

“Education dollars should follow students, no matter what school they attend,” Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Education committees, said. “Clearing these waitlists fulfills our commitment to families from across the state that want a stronger say in their child’s education. From public schools to public charter schools, and private schools, North Carolina is at the forefront of school choice and education freedom.”

House Bill 823 now returns to the N.C. House of Representatives for consideration.



Senator Berger Press Shop

Press releases from N.C. Senate Republicans and Senate Leader Phil Berger