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School Choice

School Choice


Wisconsin Parental Choice Program

St. Mary's Springs Academy has been a part of the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) since it was launched in 2013. This private school voucher program allows students whose families meet certain income qualifications the ability to attend participating private or religious schools like SMSA, tuition free. Once a voucher is granted, the student will receive that vouhcer from the time they enter SMSA until the time they graduate as long as annual state requirements are met (i.e. proof of residency). This program has already supported countless families throughout the state; several right here in Fond du Lac. Click HERE to hear some of their stories! 


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 student currently attending a private or religious school may apply to the program only when entering K4, K5, first and ninth grade.


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,
• Meals,
• High school classes not required or credited for graduation,
• Transportation,
• Before- school and after-school child care.


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?
A: Yes.

Q: How many students will participate in the WPCP?
A:For the 2017-18 school year the cap is determined by calculating 2% of the local school districts enrollment. Enrollment in a particular area can not exceed that 2% 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.

How to Apply

The application period for the 2017-2018 school year has closed. Late applications will not be accepted for any reason. Parents must complete the on-line student application. 

In addition to completing the on-line student application, parents must provide residency documentation and income documentation (if the application is for a new student) directly to the school(s) they apply to during the application period or their application is ineligible. Parents/guardians may either: (a) provide their social security numbers or taxpayer identification number to the school and have the Department of Revenue determine whether the student is income eligible for the program; or (b) use the Department of Public Instruction’s income determination method by answering a series of income questions in the on-line application and providing paper income documentation to the school(s) as directed in the application during the open application period. The school will verify that the student meets the income requirements. Applicants must also provide proof of residency directly to the schools during the open application period. A student can apply to the Choice program at one or more schools during the open application period(s). It is recommended that parents keep in touch with the school to receive the latest information regarding their application.