In 2023, North Carolina lawmakers went all-in on vouchers. Via changes incorporated in the 2023 budget bill, North Carolina became the tenth state with a universal voucher program, one in which all private school students are eligible for state-funded subsidies regardless of their family income.

The budget also triples the program’s funding. What was once a small, limited program spending just $10.8 million per year has ballooned. By the 2032-2033 school year, the program is slated to spend $551 million per year. These changes will have profound impacts on the education landscape in North Carolina for years to come. So how did we get here? And what will the impacts be on North Carolina’s students?

This paper seeks to provide those answers. It includes the history of the Opportunity Scholarship program. It details how state lawmakers have expanded the program over the years to increasingly subsidize private school enrollments. It will show how privatization schemes like voucher programs create budget pressures in our inclusive public schools while expanding opportunities for fraud and corruption. It describes the dismal academic outcomes of voucher programs in other states and how North Carolina students are also likely to suffer academically. Finally, this report offers policy recommendations that will center the needs of students.

Download a PDF of the report