Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
129 Choice Schools
28,958 Participating Students
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) was created in 1990, and is the country’s first school choice voucher program. The program allows low and middle-income families who live in Milwaukee to enroll their children in private schools that they could not otherwise afford, through the use of an educational voucher.
In its first year, seven private schools in the city accepted 341 students. Today, the MPCP has expanded to include more than 125 schools in the metro Milwaukee area and serves more than 28,000 students annually. The MPCP has no enrollment caps. Most schools that participate in the MPCP enroll both choice and non-choice students.
MPCP Student Eligibility
- The student must reside in Milwaukee.
- Family income must be equal to or less than 300% of the federal poverty level.
- There is no limit on the number of students who may participate in the Milwaukee Parent Choice Program.
MPCP Voucher Amounts
For the 2023–2024 school year, the amount of the voucher is $9,893 for grades K-8 and $12,387 for grades 9-12. For the 2024–2025 school year, the amount of the voucher will be $10,237 for grades K-8 and $12,731 for grades 9-12. The voucher amount increases by an amount equal to the increase in state public school funding each year.
Milwaukee Parental Choice Program FAQ
Schools are permitted to charge additional fees for the following things:
- Personal items such as towels, gym clothes or uniforms
- Social and extracurricular activities not a part of the required curriculum
- Musical instruments
- Before and after-school care
- High school classes not required for graduation
In grades K-8, the voucher is accepted as full payment for the cost of tuition. In grades 9-12, the school may charge additional tuition if the family’s income is greater than 220 percent of the federal poverty level.
All students who meet residency, prior year attendance, and income requirements are eligible for the program. A school may not use grades or test scores as a condition of acceptance. A school may test students for placement purposes after they’ve been accepted.
You need complete the online application each year during the open enrollment period. Open enrollment periods vary by choice program.
The application is on the DPI website and you must have an email address to use the system. If your student doesn’t meet the application grade level or prior year attendance requirement, you won’t be able to complete the application.
You may apply to one or more schools at the same time.
Eligibility is based on family income, prior year attendance, residency, and age of students entering grades K4, K5, and 1. Eligibility is not based on race, ethnic background, religion, prior test scores, grades, recommendations or membership in a church or parish. Choice schools must accept all eligible applications.
In the RPCP, the school must have a random drawing to select choice students if there are more eligible applications submitted than seats available. In the WPCP, the DPI conducts the random drawing.
It depends on the school and on the school district. Some schools provide transportation. Some districts provide transportation or reimburse the parent a certain amount for their transportation costs. Check directly with the school you plan to attend or with your district of residence.
The school will notify you within 60 days whether your child has received a voucher or has been placed on a waiting list. If more applications are received than slots available, the school will also let you know the date of the lottery to select choice students. If your student is placed on the waiting list, the school will let you know what your place in line is. If the school rejects your application, the notice of non-acceptance will give you the reason why.
If your student is offered a choice seat, you must notify the school within five days whether or not they will attend. You must also provide proof of residency and income before the end of the enrollment period.
The “once in, always in” provision means your child keeps his or her voucher even if family income rises, as long as your student continues to attend a choice school and does not voluntarily leave the program. Your family might have some children who qualify and others that don’t depending on the year each one applies to enter one of the Wisconsin school choice programs.
Milwaukee Parental Choice Program Growth
MPCP IS LAUNCHED
The program was open to students in Milwaukee with a family income less than 175% of the federal poverty level. Private schools had to be nonsectarian, no more than 1% of the enrollment in the MPS could participate, and no more than 49% of a choice school’s enrollment could consist of choice pupils.
RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS INCLUDED
Act 27 allowed religious schools to participate and increased the participation limit to 15% of MPS enrollment.
WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT DECISION
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that it is constitutional for religious schools to participate in the Milwaukee Parent Choice Program.
U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION
SCOTUS ruled that school choice programs are constitutional in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris.
Act 125 increased the allowable enrollment in the Milwaukee Parent Choice Program to 22,500 students.
Choice schools were required to administer the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) to voucher students.
MPCP EXPANDS AGAIN
Act 32 deleted the enrollment limit and raised the income threshold to 300% of the federal poverty level.
The voucher amount increased by an amount equal to the increase in state public school funding starting in the 2015-2016 school year.
28,958 PARTICIPATING STUDENTS IN 131 SCHOOLS
State legislators from both sides of the political aisle came together with the Governor to make historic increases to per pupil payment amounts.