Student Application Process for Parents and Students
STEP 1: Student Application for Enrollment
Obtain the Student Application for Enrollment from the choice district to which you are interested in applying. Visit the choice district locator to find information on all the participating choice districts in NJ. Each district's application is unique to its own choice program. The application should be available on each district's website.
Complete the application and submit it to the choice district. The information you provide on the application will determine your student's enrollment category. Student applicants fall into one of three categories: Tier 1 or Tier 2, or those with special enrollment preference.
- To be eligible as Tier 1, a student must be enrolled in a NJ public school in his or her resident school district at the time of application and for the entire year immediately preceding enrollment in a choice district, and must be verified as such by the resident district. Tier 1 students also include students in the following circumstances:
- Charter school students
- A student who moved during the school year and attended the public school in both the old and new resident districts
- A student applying to kindergarten who is attending a state-funded preschool (i.e, tuition-free preschool) in his or her resident district or a student who resides in a district that does not offer a state-funded (tuition-free) preschool program, or a student who has a sibling currently attending the choice district. Most students applying for kindergarten are in 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.
- 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.
Choice districts are not obligated to accept Tier 2 students. If a choice district accepts Tier 2 applicants, it may do so after all 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 lottery to select students. Parents should contact their desired choice district to find out if it accepts Tier 2 applications.
- Choice districts may give enrollment preference in the application process to students in the following circumstances:
- Students who have siblings currently attending the choice district
- 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, provided they will enroll in a choice-approved grade/program and they meet any program-specific criteria)
- Resident students of the choice district who move out of the district before the application deadline in December and want to remain in the choice district the following year.
Check the district's policies on their website or on this webpage to find out what enrollment preferences and policies exist.
The application must be received by the choice district by December 3, 2020.
It is essential that you obtain and keep a signed and dated receipt for the delivery of the completed application for your records.
STEP 2: Notice of Intent to Participate
If your student is Tier 2 and not currently registered with his/her resident district, continue directly to Step 3. Tier 2 applicants do not need to submit a Notice of Intent to Participate Form.
If your student is Tier 1, complete the Notice of Intent to Participate Form, submit it to your resident district by December 3, and obtain a signed receipt acknowledging that you submitted the form. Keep the receipt for your records. Note: By law, a resident district must be informed if a student intends to participate in the choice program.
What the choice district is doing and when:
The choice district must review all submitted applications and determine which will be accepted and rejected and if a lottery is necessary.
- If an application is rejected (see the associated statute for circumstances allowing for rejection), the district must inform the parent or guardian by December 20 with a Notice of Rejection that includes a reason for the rejection.
- If by December 3 the Tier 1 applications number no more than the seats available, the choice district must send a Notice of Conditional Acceptance to each eligible applicant. The Notice of Conditional Acceptance should include a Notice of Intent to Enroll Form for the parent or guardian to complete. The choice district must ensure you receive the Notice of Conditional Acceptance by December 20.
If by December 3 the eligible applications number more than the seats available, the choice district must conduct a public lottery for those grades or programs in which the number of applications exceeds the number of available seats. The results of the lottery will determine which students will be accepted as choice students for the following school year and which students will be placed on the waiting list.
How the Lottery Works:
- The parent or guardian of each child who has submitted an application must be informed of the date and time of the lottery. The choice district must assign a number to each student participating in the lottery and notify the parent or guardian of the number assigned to their child(ren).
- Through the lottery process, applicants will be assigned a number reflecting the student's place on the list of accepted students or on the waiting list.
- Upon completion of the lottery, the choice district must send to the parent or guardian of each student who has been accepted for enrollment into the district the Notice of Conditional Acceptance and a Notice of Intent to Enroll Form. These must be received by the parent or guardian by December 20.
- Upon completion of the lottery, the choice district also must notify the parent or guardian of each student placed on the waiting list as a result of the lottery. This notice must include information about the student's position on the waiting list and must be received by the parent or guardian by December 20.
STEP 3: Notice of Conditional Acceptance
- If your student has received a Notice of Conditional Acceptance and you decide to enroll the student in the choice district, you must complete the Notice of Intent to Enroll Form and return it to the choice district by January 6, 2020. You can submit a Notice of Intent to Enroll to only one choice district. You cannot commit to more than one choice district.
- NOTE: When making your decision, please be aware that transportation may not be provided for your student. Depending on the circumstances, the resident district may provide aid in lieu of transportation. (Visit the transportation procedures for more information.)
- If you decide not to enroll your student, you should inform the choice district as soon as possible because there may be students on the waiting list.
- Choice districts may set a deadline for registration for new choice students; if a newly accepted choice student does not register by the publicized deadline, then the district can revoke acceptance and notify the next applicant on the waitlist of conditional acceptance.
STEP 4: Transportation
Transportation of choice students is not guaranteed. If the cost of transportation will exceed $1,000, the parent/guardian will be given $1,000 as aid in lieu of transportation and, in some cases, the option of receiving the transportation and paying the additional amount over $1,000. (Note: the transportation cost threshold is determined each year in the annual budget appropriations act, and therefore subject to change.) 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.
The resident district is responsible for the transportation services of all eligible choice students, provided the cost does not exceed the established maximum. The choice district must send the resident district Transportation Requests for those students eligible for transportation services.
For parents seeking transportation to the choice district for their child, work with the choice district to fill out the required forms. Parents must provide the following information to the administrator of the choice school at the time of enrollment in the choice school and whenever there is a change of the student's address:
- the student's name, date of birth, address, grade, one-way mileage between the student's home and the choice school, and the name of the last school of attendance.
By Aug. 1, parents should receive notification of their transportation options from the resident district.
To learn about the transportation eligibility requirements and transportation rules, visit the choice school transportation procedures on the website.
This completes the student application process!