Student eligibility and application process
All New Jersey students are eligible to become choice students, regardless of where they live in the state. Students may attend a choice school in another district and county, however the school must be in an approved choice district.
To find the listing of approved choice districts, click on Find a Choice District. Students who want to attend a choice school must contact the district directly to find out if it has openings and in what grade levels and to get its choice application. The application must be submitted directly to the desired choice district.
To learn about how to apply, click on Student Application Process. The application deadline for 2017-18 is December 1, 2016.
Choice students cannot be selected on the basis of academic aptitude, athletic ability, behavior record, English language proficiency, or any basis prohibited by law. A choice district that offers a special program with a particular focus may evaluate prospective students on their interest in the program and must use the same enrollment criteria used for the resident students.
Student enrollment preference
Students who have attended their resident district public school in the year before enrollment in a choice district are given enrollment preference. These students are considered to be Tier 1 choice applicants. Depending on the choice district, other enrollment preferences may apply. Inquire with the choice district to find out what application preferences may be given. Student applicants fall into one of 3 categories: Tier 1 or Tier 2, or those with special enrollment preference.
Tier 1 students are students who are enrolled in a NJ public school in their resident school district during the time of application and for the entire year immediately preceding enrollment in a choice district. If a student moved during the school year and attended the resident public school of his/her old district of residence, he/she is also considered Tier 1. Choice districts must first fill their available seats with Tier 1 students. If the number of Tier 1 applications exceeds the number of choice seats available, the choice district must hold a lottery to randomly select students. Charter school students are considered to be Tier 1. To qualify as Tier 1 for kindergarten, a student must be attending a state-funded preschool in his or her resident district or a student resides in a district that does not offer a state-funded preschool program or a student has a sibling currently attending the choice district. Most students applying for kindergarten are in Tier 1.
Tier 2 students include NJ residents who have not attended their resident public school for the entire year immediately prior to enrollment in the desired choice district and do not otherwise meet the requirements for Tier 1. This would include students who have been attending public school outside their districts of residence or private school. Choice districts are not obligated to accept Tier 2 students. If a choice district accepts Tier 2 applicants, they may do so only after all of the qualified Tier 1 applicants have been accepted. If the number of Tier 2 applications exceeds the number of choice seats available, the choice district must hold a Tier 2 lottery to select students. Parents should contact their desired choice district or visit their website to find out if it accepts Tier 2 applications.
Special enrollment preference may be given to students in the following circumstances: 1) students who have siblings currently attending the choice district; 2) choice students who have completed the terminal grade of the sending district (i.e., students who attend a choice district with grades that terminate before 12th grade and with a natural progression to another choice district); and 3) resident students of the choice district who move out of the district after the start of the school year but before the application deadline in December and want to remain in the district in the next year. If any of these circumstances apply to your student, please contact the choice district you are interested in attending to confirm their policies.
Transportation of choice students is not guaranteed. To be eligible for transportation services, a student must live within 20 miles of the school. If the cost of transportation will exceed $884, the parent/guardian will be given $884 as aid in lieu of transportation or, in some cases, the option of receiving the transportation and paying the additional amount over $884. By Aug. 1, parents should receive notification of their transportation options from the resident district. For more information, read the Transportation Procedures for choice students.