Choose an audience +

school choice

North Carolina – Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities

North Carolina – Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities

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.

Program Fast Facts

  • One of 15 private school choice programs exclusively for students with special needs

  • 611 participating students (2014–15)

  • 12 percent of students eligible statewide

  • 168 participating schools (2014–15)

  • Average voucher value: $5,070 (2014–15)

  • Value as a percentage of public school per-student spending: 60 percent

Program Details

North Carolina’s Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities Program Participation

Students Participating
School Year Ending/School Year

Click the + symbols to learn more about this program’s details.

North Carolina allows students with special needs to receive vouchers to attend private schools of their parents’ choosing.

Student Funding

Vouchers are worth up to $4,000 per semester ($8,000 per school year) and may be used for private school tuition and special education services, including services provided to homeschooled students. A total of $4.2 million is available for vouchers for each fiscal year, and any leftover funds will carry over to the next fiscal year.

Student Eligibility

To qualify, students must require an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and receive special education services on a daily basis. Additionally, students must have either been (1) enrolled in a North Carolina public school during the previous semester, (2) received special education services as a preschooler during the previous semester, (3) received a voucher under this program during the previous semester or (4) be eligible for enrollment in kindergarten or first grade.

EdChoice Expert Feedback

Although North Carolina already improved school choice for students with special needs by shifting from a nonrefundable, individual tax credit for educational expenses to this voucher program, the current policy still has room for improvement. The program is strong on eligibility and is clearly intended to eventually serve all families of children with special needs who think their children would be better served in different schools. Funding per student was increased from $6,000 to $8,000 per student per year, which is laudable and a step in the right direction. The next step should be to take into account additional funds that many students with disabilities need for required specialized services.

Rules and Regulations

  • Income Limit: None
  • Prior Year Public School Requirement: Conditional
  • Geographic Limit: Statewide
  • Enrollment Cap: None
  • Voucher Cap: $4,000 per semester
  • Testing Mandates: National
  • *Limited to students with special needs


School Requirements:

  • Meet state nondiscrimination policies
  • Comply with health and safety requirements

Governing Statutes

N.C. Rev. Stat. §§ 115C-112.5–9

Legal History

On July 23, 2015, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld all aspects of that state’s two vouchers, the Opportunity Scholarship Program and the Special Education Scholarship Grants for Children with Disabilities, as constitutional. Hart v. North Carolina; Richardson v. North Carolina.

Questions about Educational Choice?

Choose your path.

Receive Educational Choice Updates Straight to Your Inbox.