Wisconsin Parental Choice Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is eligible for the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program?
A: Students who are residents of Wisconsin, outside of the Milwaukee Public School and Racine Unified School Districts, with an Adjusted Gross Income at or below 185% of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive a voucher to attend a private or religious school through the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program.
Q: Who may apply?
A: Any public school student in grades K4-12 who meets the income requirements;
A: Any student who in the previous school year was not enrolled in school;
A: Any non-voucher student currently attending a private or religious school may apply to the program only when entering K4, K5, first and ninth grade;
A: Any student who participated in the WPCP OR RPCP the previous school year.
Q: My child has a special need. Can I apply for the program?
A: Yes – eligibility for the program is based only on residency and income requirements. Please contact the school in which you are interested in enrolling your child for more information and to discuss the services they provide.
Q: How do I know if I meet the income requirements?
A: To meet the income requirements for the program a student’s family must have an Adjusted Gross Income at or below 185% of the federal poverty level, with an additional $7,000 allowed for a married couple, as illustrated in the table below.
Q: What if my income increases in subsequent years?
A: The “once in, always in” provision means your child keeps his or her voucher even if family income rises. Family income is determined for each student in the year they enter the program. Families could have some children qualify and others that do not qualify depending on family income in the year each child seeks entry into the program. The “once in, always in” provision applies only if a student continues to attend a school in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program and does not voluntarily leave the program.
Q: What is the dollar amount of the voucher?
A: For 2016-2017, the amount of the voucher is $7,323 for grades K-8 and $7,969 for grades 9-12.
Q: Will I have to pay anything additional in tuition?
A: No. The voucher must be accepted as full payment of the cost of education.
Q: Can a school collect fees from a student participating in the program?
A: Yes. A school may charge a student participating in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program reasonable fees for personal items such as:
• Gym clothes or uniforms,
• Social and extracurricular activities as long as the activity is not a part of the required curriculum,
• Musical instruments,
• High school classes not required or credited for graduation,
• Before- school and after-school child care.
Q: How do I know what schools are open to school choice?
A: Call your preferred private or religious school to see if they intend to participate in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. A list of participating schools can also be found here. The 2017-2018 list of schools will be available February 1st.
Q: Which grade levels are available at the private or religious school I choose?
A: Each private or religious school determines the grade levels and the number of seats it will make available at each grade level to students in the WPCP. This will vary from school to school.
Q: Does my child have to meet academic standards to attend a school through the program?
A: A student who meets residency and income requirements is eligible for the program. A school may not use grades or test scores as a condition of acceptance into the program. Once a student is accepted into the program, a school may test a student for placement purposes within the school.
Q: Can I apply to more than one school through the program?
Q: How many students and how many schools will participate in the WPCP?
A:There are no limits to the number of schools that can participate in the WPCP. For the 2016-17 school year the cap is determined by calculating 1% of the local school districts enrollment. Enrollment in a particular area can not exceed that 1% cap.
Q: Will my child be required to follow the school rules?
A: Yes. Once a student is accepted and enrolled in the school, he or she is required to follow the school’s policies and procedures. A parent should contact the school for a copy of its policies and procedures. In addition, state law requires schools to have policies and procedures in place regarding suspension and expulsion.
Q: Do the schools provide transportation?
A: A private school is not required to provide transportation to students in the program. If the school chooses to provide transportation, a fee may be charged. In some cases, the district of residence will provide transportation or reimburse the parent a certain amount for their transportation costs through a contract. Check directly with the private school you plan to attend or with your district of residence.
Q: How do I apply for the WPCP?
A: To apply for the program, a parent or guardian must complete an online application that will be available during the open enrollment period which runs February 1st-April 20th. A link to the application is available here
Within the online application, the parent or guardian will select the schools to which they wish to apply. After completing the online application, the parent or guardian must provide proof that they meet residency and income requirements to each school to which they have applied, no later than April 20th. The online application is not complete until each school to which the parent or guardian has applied has verified and accepted the required documentation.
Q: Can I apply to more than one school through the program?
Q: What if the parent or guardian does not have access to a computer or the Internet?
A: Most public libraries have computers and internet available for public use. It is also possible that the private or parochial school to which you apply may have computers available for your use. Please contact the school to find out.
Q: What do I do if my child is accepted?
A: Parents must reply to the school within five days after notice from DPI or the school whether or not they accept the voucher and placement at the school. If the parent has applied to more than one school, the parent must choose which school they wish to attend and reply to that school within five days of notification.
Q: Where can I find more information about the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program?
A: You may contact the following:
• Department of Public Instruction 608-266-2853 or 608-266-0523 sms.dpi.wi.gov/wpcp-statewide
• School Choice Wisconsin 855-827-1372 or 414-319-9160 www.chooseyourschoolwi.org
• Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools 608-287-1224